AN OXFORDSHIRE Councillor has apologised and is under investigation after appearing to agree with a tweet which insulted cyclists.

Liam Walker, the Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for Highways Delivery and Operations, shared his thoughts on Government plans to fund cycling and public transport infrastructure on Twitter yesterday (October 19).

Under his post, which shared a link to Telegraph article on transport, there was discussion about infrastructure to encourage cycling uptake in the Netherlands.

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But a Twitter user called @JohnCarline3 wrote: “Cyclists constantly w**king off the dutch [sic]. F**k off over there then.”

And Mr Walker replied: “Well put in a way people would complain if I said the same.”

Herald Series:

Though both tweets have since been deleted, the council has confirmed it is now looking into a formal complaint about the incident.

And there was anger about Mr Walker’s reaction among supporters of new measures to encourage cycling, some of whom have called for him to stand down.

The leader of an Oxford cycling group, who did not wish to be named, said: “Councillor Walker has shown several times that he is anti-cycling and against transport policies of the council that are intended to make the streets healthier and safer for everyone. As a result we don’t think he is the right person to be in this Cabinet role.”

Cabinet member Mr Walker apologised for his tweet.

He said: “I am sorry if anyone was offended, it was just a tongue-in-cheek comment off the back of that article.”

Mr Walker added: “Obviously I did not say it, I implied I agreed with the view.

“I hear a lot about what is going on in Holland but we are not the same as Holland. We are trying to do the best we can to improve infrastructure but with restricted funding.”

Conservative councillor Mr Walker also explained he had deleted his tweet because he wanted to stop ‘more and more’ comments underneath it.

He added: “To be frank it is quite depressing when you go on social media and you read all sorts of expletives about you, it does take its toll.”

Mr Walker denied the tweet revealed he was against moves by the Tory Government to promote what has been called a ‘modal shift’: encouraging more people to walk, cycle or use public transport instead of driving their cars.

But he added the county highways budget was tight, and different approaches were needed for cycle-friendly Oxford and for surrounding rural areas which are more car-reliant.

He said: “We need a transport system and active travel that benefits the county, not just the city. I have to bear in mind we are Oxfordshire County Council. It is a difficult message to get across.”

He added: “I have always supported the idea of reducing traffic in the city, but at the moment it is an economic balance.

“I think the added difficulty now is Covid. If you didn’t have Covid, the bus gates the other week would probably have gone through.”

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An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman confirmed that formal complaints had been received about Mr Walker’s tweet.

They said: “Oxfordshire County Council has received complaints about this matter, and they will be investigated by the monitoring officer.

“The council has a member code of conduct and has adopted a complaints procedure for assessing whether this has been breached. The monitoring officer will investigate this matter over the next few days in accordance with that procedure.”

Political opponents of Mr Walker on the county council were unhappy with his actions on social media.

The council’s only Green Party councillor Pete Sudbury said: “This is another thing that suggests the Conservatives just don’t get the green agenda and don’t get their own Government’s transport strategy.”

And the Labour councillor Damian Haywood, who is the opposition group’s spokesman for Highways, said: “We have to work with different groups to ensure we have the right local information.

“They are there to give us guidance and they are the experts in their fields: We are not. We should not be upsetting people who can help us improve local lives.”

Complaints have previously been made about Mr Walker’s use of social media.

Last year, he used emojis to call a Labour candidate in ‘be*lend’ during a Twitter argument.

And in 2013, he apologised after having claimed to see foodbank users in the pubs of Witney, implying they did not need help.