A leading councillor has promised to look again at controversial plans to turn a narrow residential street into a one-way link road as part of the ‘congestion-busting’ A62 to Cooper Bridge Corridor Improvement Scheme.
Residents in Oak Road at Bradley became “sacrificial lambs” when Kirklees Council scrapped its first choice scheme for Cooper Bridge.
The council ditched its preferred option because it would have meant the destruction of ancient woodland and its Plan B meant extensive changes around the Bradley traffic lights.
As part of the reconfiguration of the junction the council proposed turning Oak Road into a one-way street, funnelling traffic off the A62 through to Bradley Road.
Last month the council’s Cabinet backed the £75 million scheme, allowing officers to move ahead and draw up detailed plans, known as an Outline Business Case.
Residents, supported by Mirfield Tory councillor Martyn Bolt, said councillors failed to answer 18 questions and claimed Cabinet members weren’t given full information.
Clr Bolt succeeded in ‘calling in’ the decision and on Tuesday, Cabinet’s alleged failings were analysed at a special meeting of the Economy and Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Panel.
After a four-and-a-half hour hearing the panel agreed to refer the decision back to Cabinet, and made a series of recommendations and “learnings.”
Panel chairman Clr Harpreet Uppal said residents’ questions should have been answered and there should have been more clarity and information made available in the Cabinet report.
The council had looked at no fewer than 30 options for the Cooper Bridge scheme – which even included a flyover – and that detail should have been in the Cabinet report, the panel decided.
Clr Uppal said that in future Cabinet reports should use “clear and simple” language so information could be understood by the public.
During the hearing Clr Peter McBride, the Cabinet member for regeneration who is leading the scheme, recognised that many had reservations about the impact on Oak Road – not least the three ward councillors – and he promised a “reappraisal.”
Edward Highfield, the council’s new service director for skills and regeneration, who joined the council in August, said the Outline Business Case was only the start and no final decision had been made over whether Oak Road was in or out.
“We can refine and continue to evolve the scheme,” he said. “All final decisions will come after we have done the full design. We absolutely acknowledge there’s a lot of detail to work through, that’s why it’s an Outline Business Case.”
At the Cabinet meeting council officers suggested imposing a 7.5 tonne weight limit on HGVs using Oak Road but Clr Bolt warned that would just send HGVs down Alandale Road and into Bradley estate – where there had been no consultation with residents.
The panel was told that the weight limit was also far from a done deal and was “just a proposal that needs further investigation.”
At the end of the hearing panel member Clr Liz Smaje wanted to emphasise one of the panel’s decisions and said: “We recognise Clr McBride’s commitment to reappraise contentious areas of the scheme.”
The decision will now be sent back to Cabinet but there is no compulsion for Cabinet to accept or act upon the panel’s recommendations.