Derbyshire County Council accused of 'arrogance' over Chesterfield road closure
Council leaders have been accused of arrogance and blundering over the closure of a Chesterfield road.
Permission for the controversial temporary closure of Crow Lane, under emergency Covid legislation, ran out on December 1.
However, the road, which Derbyshire County Council still intends to close permanently to make it part of the route of a new cycle path, remained shut at the start of this week.
County Hall says it will reopen Crow Lane and hold a consultation with local people – but have made it clear the intention remains to permanently close it.
A council spokesperson said: “We realise that the temporary order to close Crow Lane has now expired, and under the current legislation we cannot extend the closure.
"It is our intention to carry out the necessary process to make this closure permanent, and while we carry that out we will be looking to safely re-open the road to traffic.
“This will take place as soon as possible, once we have made sure the road is safe and we have signs in place to warn all users of the road that it is now open to all traffic.
“The permanent closure will take us some time to process and will give local people and road users the chance to have their say. We’d expect this process to take around three months.”
Crow Lane was closed in June last year amid the pandemic to create a walking and cycling route between Chesterfield railway station and the Royal Hospital.
A group of residents in the area objected – with hundreds of people signing a petition to reopen the route.
Spokesperson Kathleen Carlile said she was not hopeful the road will ever reopen permanently.
"I think the council has been taken to task for the moves it has made to this point,” she said.
Chesterfield and District Civic Society, which has fought against the closure, said it would be making a complaint to the Government and local government ombudsman if the road did not reopen fully by Friday, December 10.
Society chairman Philip Riden said in a letter to the council that Crow Lane should have been reopened ‘as soon as practicable after midnight on 1-2 December, as you are perfectly well aware’.
“I can only assume that you had hoped that no one would notice your surreptitious attempt to break the law and close the road permanently without statutory authority,” he said.
Mr Riden said a previous reply from the council had shown ‘innate arrogance’.
"It makes clear that the county council intends to close Crow Lane permanently and assumes that any form of public consultation is simply a minor inconvenience, the outcome of which can safely be ignored.
"You may care to recall that 711 local residents have recently signed a petition strongly objecting to what the county council proposes to do.”
Kathleen previously said the residents were ‘not anti-cyclist, anti-walkers or anti the environment’ but considered the lane a ‘vitally important route for local people’.
"The closure has simply pushed the traffic onto other routes, like Manor Road and Top Road,” she said.
"It was closed off without a proper consultation using powers given the council because of the pandemic.”