Hundreds of Chesterfield people attend meeting on 'flawed' cycle route plans
Hundreds of Chesterfield residents gathered last night to have their say on controversial plans to build a major new cycle route across town.
Derbyshire County Council’s east-to-west cycle and pedestrian route was given the green light by County Hall last month and could be in operation as early as March next year.
However, the route chosen has continued to divide opinion, with council leaders facing accusations that the consultation held into the proposal was ‘flawed’ and residents had been ignored.
The public meeting, held at Brookfield Community School Hall, was addressed by Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.
The Labour MP said his support of cycling and the need for improved cycling infrastructure did not mean ‘we should blindly support each and every project’.
He told the meeting the controversy surrounds two elements of the plan – the closure of Crow Lane in the east and the narrowing of Chatsworth Road to create the cycle path in the west.
“I have been contacted by countless residents, those who have been most affected by the proposed route, who did not receive any consultation letter or information leaflet from Derbyshire County Council inviting them to give their views,” Mr Perkins said.
"Residents living on the roads off Chatsworth Road, where the biggest impact of the route will be, and many of the people in the Brimington Common area, who are affected by the ongoing closure of Crow Lane, have reported to me that they have had no contact from the council.”
Mr Perkins repeated his call for Derbyshire County Council to pause their plans and re-engage with residents.
"I have also raised a complaint with the local government ombudsman regarding the consultation and the decision-making process,” he added.
Chesterfield and District Civic Society, which organised the meeting, said more than 350 people attended and it was ‘one of the largest of its kind in Chesterfield for some years’.
Society chairman Philip Riden said: “A number of speakers criticised the proposed cycle ‘super highway’, which would run alongside Chatsworth Road between Holymoor Road and Storrs Road.
"They believed that it would make the road more dangerous for cyclists and lead to worse congestion for motor traffic.
"Others urged the use of the Greendale Avenue instead.
"Speakers in favour of the Chatsworth Road route argued that it would encourage more cycling, especially among young people, and would be safer than the present road layout.”
Three people who own land on an alternative route, off Greendale Avenue, also spoke about their concerns over consultations with the county council.
Mr Riden said: “They stressed that they had always been in favour of the footpath being upgraded to a bridle path which cyclists could use, but were frustrated by the failure, over many years, of the county council to meet their concerns over liability for injury by users.”
He said ‘strong feelings’ had also been expressed about the permanent closure of part of Crow Lane.
A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said the consultation was ‘appropriate’.
“For many years, the county council has attempted to provide an alternative route by extending the Hipper Valley Trail between Somersall Park and Holymoor Road, but the land is not owned by the council and negotiations to buy it have been unsuccessful,” she added.