Councillors' safety fear over road proposal - but council leader says group is 'playing politics'
PUBLISHED: 08:04 25 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:04 25 January 2018
Councillors in Saffron Walden say they are 'appalled' by proposals to change roads in the town which they believe could pose a risk to cyclists and school children.
Plans to replace the mini roundabouts at the junctions of Newport Road and London Road with traffic lights and adding no-entry signs to stop vehicles going up Borough Lane have been unveiled.
Highways officials at Essex County Council (ECC) drew up the proposals in an effort to improve crossing for pedestrians and the layout of the roads.
But Councillor John Lodge, chairman of the Residents for Uttlesford group (R4U), said there was no evidence the changes were needed.
He said: “This will force all through-traffic along London Road towards the town centre, and make what can be already long queues even longer. There is no evidence that this scheme is needed – it was an appalling idea then and it still is now.”
Traffic could then be sent up Debden Road, where there is a 22t weight limit on the old railway bridge to limit HGV use.
Cllr Lodge said: “The shortest route for HGVs to cross town will be down the High Street. Statistically HGVs are most dangerous when they turn left as they undercut cyclists and can clip pavements – and this is a busy school walking route.
“Worse still, ECC and UDC are providing no public consultation for the plans, and they’ve now changed things to prevent any veto by the town council.”
Councillor Howard Rolfe, leader of the district council, said it was not a UDC scheme and the idea was put forward at a routine meeting between Saffron Walden Town Council, UDC and ECC to discuss traffic movements and highways in Saffron Walden.
He said: “At the meeting, details of the Borough Lane idea were requested and duly sent out. The plans were drawn up by highway specialists from ECC. Since then R4U have chosen to play politics and suggest it is a done deal.
“ECC is carrying out further studies to see if it would push HGVs down the high street before the idea is considered. If any recommendation is made it would be put out for consultation. Any proposal would have to be heavily weighted in strengths.”