Stone protest planned over threat to village landmark

The Soulbury stone kDQO2bRVdcnMgBZ48SqQ
The Soulbury stone kDQO2bRVdcnMgBZ48SqQ

An ancient stone rock which lies in the middle of a village street is at the centre of a bizarre row which has pitched residents against highways chiefs.

Council bosses want to remove the three-foot high, glacial rock which lies, unmarked and unlit close to a road junction in the centre of Soulbury, Bucks.

They claims the rock, believed to have been deposited there 11,000 years ago during the last ice age and known as the Soulbury Stone, poses a danger to motorists.

However the move has outraged villagers who are threatening to chain themselves to the much-loved landmark if efforts are made to remove it.

The stone’s future has been cast into doubt after a motorist crashed into it and demanded £1,800 compensation. This caused Buckinghamshire County Council to review its position and discover that technically it is in obstruction of the public highway according to The Highways Act 1980.

This means the wacky monument may have to be removed, causing outcry with many villagers.

At least seven people, including parish council chairman Victor Wright, are now threatening to chain themselves to the rock to stop this happening.

Mr Wright, 65, said: “I think it is health and safety gone mad.

“If a motorist can’t see that rock then they shouldn’t be driving.

“My grandchildren are smaller than that rock and it is very obvious in the road.

“We have employed a top notch solicitor to represent the parish council and if necessary fight the compensation claim.

“At least seven people have come forward and are willing to chain themselves to the rock to stop it being taken away.

“I think the whole situation has become ridiculous. The answer is to put something around it not remove it.

“It’s part of the village’s history. Oliver Cromwell apparently stood on the rock when the church was ransacked.”

Soulbury parish councillor Alan Stevens said: “It will not be removed in my opinion because it has always been there and just because some lady ran into it doesn’t mean it should go.

“How she ran into it I do not know. It is not in the road way, it is on a junction.”

Villager Pam Norman helps edits the village’s newsletter and said: “I am sure the villagers won’t allow it to be moved.

“It has been there so long it is part of the village. People will be up in arms, there will be outcry if it is removed.”

The outcry started when a letter was sent to parish council chairman Victor Wright by Transport for Bucks’ Matt Whincup.

It said: “This puts Transport for Bucks in a very difficult position as I understand the stone has been in place at the junction for a very long time.

“Technically the stone is an obstruction in the public highway according to The Highways Act 1980 and now that an incident has been brought to our attention we are obliged to take action.”

A council spokesman said its investigation of the issue was ongoing.