Members set to clash over buses
COUNTY councillors hoping to push through plans for a new £850,000 bus lane in Brampton Road, Huntingdon, are preparing to be ambushed by colleagues from Huntingdonshire District Council. Each authority has six members on the district s traffic management
COUNTY councillors hoping to push through plans for a new £850,000 bus lane in Brampton Road, Huntingdon, are preparing to be ambushed by colleagues from Huntingdonshire District Council.
Each authority has six members on the district's traffic management area joint committee, which will consider whether to go ahead with the project at a meeting in St Ives on Monday (December 3).
But all six district councillors plan to vote against the scheme, according to one of them, on the grounds that it is a waste of money and would add to congestion in the town centre.
Huntingdon Town Council has already reacted with snorts of derision to the plan, which is partly funded by developers of homes at Hinchingbrooke Park and which also includes a new lay-by for the nearby secondary school and a toucan crossing on Brampton Road.
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In a recent county council consultation exercise with 600 nearby residents to which 83 responded, only 11 welcomed the proposed scheme.
The HDC councillors' decision to oppose it, if it comes to pass, will pose a dilemma for the committee's chairman, Councillor Mac McGuire, who sits on the county council's cabinet and was appointed to the position by that body. But he is also a recently-elected member of HDC. His loyalties will be sorely tested. If he plays safe and abstains from voting, the scheme will be lost.
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Half of those who responded to the consultation were concerned about the cost of the scheme, many of them urging the councils to spend the money on something else. And many - presumably mindful of the traffic chaos that accompanied months of construction of the contra-flow bus lane on the town's ring road earlier this year - were worried about traffic disruption during building work and congestion afterwards.
Concerned HDC members include Cllr Tom Sanderson, who also protested loudly when the town council considered the project two weeks ago.
"There could be a serious spat between county and district councillors," he predicted. "Once the A14 viaduct comes down, it will be surplus to requirements. It's not necessary any more," he told The Hunts Post. "All six district members will vote against it, so it could be a split vote. It should be scrapped, although the toucan crossing and junction realignment are good ideas."
Cllr Sanderson acknowledged that a contribution of around £200,000 from developers Twigden Homes would have to be spent for the benefit of the Hinchingbrooke Park area.
Councillor Peter Bucknell, HDC's cabinet member for planning, said he had asked the six HDC representatives to a meeting yesterday (Tuesday) as The Hunts Post went to press.
"The planning department is not happy with the proposal, because it will be wasted when the viaduct comes down. In our vision the bus lane will be in a different place. We would prefer the county council to redevelop Hartford Road instead, and I think we shall be putting up a united front on Monday."
Planners are also worried by potential damage to trees alongside Brampton Road.
The county's traffic engineers are urging the committee to ignore objectors and press ahead with the scheme without holding a public inquiry.