I am pleased to report that Northamptonshire County Council has cancelled its plan to turn Billing Road into a one-way system. They did so a couple of hours before I was due to do an interview on BBC Radio Northampton criticising it.
Having been contacted my many of my constituents over the last few weeks I made it perfectly clear to the County Council that I considered the proposal to be totally without merit and that I strongly opposed it. I had also been in contact with the heads of the institutions based on the street, including the General Hospital and the School to highlight my opposition to the proposal.
The proposal was for the conversion of Billing Road between York Road and Rushmere Road to become a one-way (westbound) road heading towards the town centre, to make room for a two-way cycle lane.
The Scheme would have cost £1.4 million, as part of the Emergency Active Travel Fund, where this Government is providing the Council with more than £3 million for road improvements. This particular proposal, however, would obviously have severely impacted and disrupted the accessibility to the Hospital, schools and care homes and put unacceptable pressure on other routes into and out of the town centre and it is right that the Council has now pulled the plug.
A local petition opposing the redesign and set up by a local resident was signed by more than 1,400 people in a very short time frame, which highlights the community’s opposition to the plan.
Aside from this Billing Road proposal, I am of course in favour of ways of improving the environment by supporting cycling. I welcome all progress on climate change and reduction in carbon emissions and, as you may be aware, on Saturday, 9th May 2020, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced a £2 billion package to create new era for cycling and walking, in what is the largest ever boost for cyclists and pedestrians, and stated: “We know cars will continue to remain vital for many, but as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.” I support this.
Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors are being created in England within weeks with alternative ways to travel, such as walking and cycling, relieving the pressure on public transport. I will continue to carefully monitor the situation and lobby relevant colleagues to ensure our roads are kept as safe as possible.