Councillors have clashed in a heated debate over a temporarily-closed road in Chesterfield.
In June, Crow Lane, next to the town’s train station was closed off to vehicles to allow a safe walking and cycling route to Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
Some residents and councillors were up in arms over the closure, saying it was carried out without any consultation.
Yesterday, (Wednesday, July 15) during a meeting of Derbyshire County Council, Brimington Cllr Stuart Brittain, quizzed Cllr Simon Spencer, the authority’s deputy leader and responsible for highways, on the issue.
Cllr Brittain called for a full consultation on the closure in the autumn and said his constituents opposed the plans.
He claimed those who support the closure live outside the constituency.
Cllr Brittain also asked for evidence that Chesterfield Borough Council was aware of the plans. He claimed he had been assured by the authority that it was not told. He says he was not told either.
Cllr Spencer says the borough council was informed and that officers representing the authority were at a meeting in which the temporary closure was agreed and it was “unreasonable” to suggest it was unaware.
However, Cllr Spencer said he was not at this meeting, which was “officer-led”.
He also said that at no time has he committed to this closure being permanent. It can remain in place temporarily for 18 months but he doesn’t expect it to last that long.
The temporary closure was put in place using emergency powers in the Coronavirus Act.
Cllr Spencer said there were many residents which have contacted him to say they supported Crow Lane’s closure – claiming it may be a 50/50 split.
He gave an assurance that “at some point”, if the measures are needed permanently, there would be a future consultation – but would not commit to one in the autumn.
Cllr Spencer said he apologised if Cllr Brittain did not receive the information in a “timely fashion”.
He also said 17 “illegal” posters around the site had been removed by the council.
Cllr Brittain said he had not put the posters up and that his “days of climbing up lamp-posts are over”.
He said during the meeting: “Residents of Brimington, Tapton and Calow are appalled that the county council, in other words you, closed Crow Lane without any consultation with them, their elected representative and Chesterfield Borough Council.
“I am told that temporary could be as long as 18 months, this is far too long. Rebooting the economy following Covid-19 is crucial but long-term solutions must be right for everyone and a consultation must take place.”
Cllr Spencer said: “There are people that have been objecting to the closure of Crow Lane being in place but there are also a significant number of people who have actually written into the council and started a petition to support them. I would estimate it is a very much of a 50/50 split at this time, without being scientifically exact.
“It has also had written support from the hospital and it had also had the support of the local MP (Toby Perkins). He did arrive at the photo call and held a placard.”
Chesterfield MP Mr Perkins says he supported the scheme as a temporary measure but not for a period up to 18 months or a permanent solution without consultation.
Cllr Spencer said: “It is unfair to suggest that all the residents of his constituency or division are opposed to the proposal because that is misleading, not correct and factually not the case.”
Cllr Brittain said: “The vast bulk of my constituents who we have surveyed, unlike you, are in opposition to this proposal. Nearly all of the people I have had writing to me (in support of the closure) are not in my division.
“Crow Lane is also very steep and the number of people who have attempted this route is very small.
“I am very disappointed that you cannot give a quicker timescale (for a consultation).”