Road closure opponents win first battle against Covid street measures
PUBLISHED: 19:00 30 September 2020
Opponents to plans to close off a Bury St Edmunds road to motorists have cleared the first hurdle - but the fight goes on.
Suffolk County Council had originally planned to completely close the junction of Lancaster Avenue and Tollgate Road to motorists as part of a national coronavirus emergency scheme, although have since backed down following backlash from more than 300 local residents.
Instead, cycle lanes are being put in place along Tollgate Lane and Beetons Way, complete with plastic barriers similar to those seen in Ipswich.
Some locals however fear the barriers will prevent residents from parking outside their homes and will prove a “waste” of public money. Others have voiced their support.
However the work, which begin tonight, start before a public consultation on the initial closure is due to begin – causing uproar among local residents who do not feel their voice is being heard.
One resident, Billy Wappett, a local fitness instructor, said he fears the barriers will also cause disruption to delivery drivers and carers visiting elderly people.
Mr Wappett, 63, said: “They can’t see beyond the end of their noses. None of this makes any sense.
“A consultation starting after work has begun and you’ve spent your money? Surely that is not a consultation – you have one before you do it. Nobody knows Tollgate Lane like the people who live in Tollgate Lane, so why aren’t we being asked?
“When I want something done on my house I have to fill in forms and go through a set procedure – but it feels like they can just do whatever they want because it is an ‘emergency Covid measure’.
“It is an emergency measure that will do nothing.
“I am for walking, for cycling and in favour of anything that gets people out and being active – but I cannot support this.”
In a joint statement, local and county councillors David Nettleton and Robert Everitt, who cover the Tollgate and Minden wards, said: “Following discussions with local residents in the area we have decided to pause the closure of Lancaster Avenue to assess alternative solutions. We will be contacting local residents in due course to discuss further and we welcome their suggestions.
“We know there are issues with rat-running through the estate as many local residents have informed us, as well as the need to make it safer and easier for more people to walk and cycle for their shorter journeys. In particular, those students travelling to the nearby primary and secondary schools, new Abbeygate Sixth Form College and West Suffolk College.”