Link road plea as plans go to the public

Traffic chaos on the A585, approaching the Kirkham junction of the M55. The road is a key link between Fleetwood and the motorway.
Traffic chaos on the A585, approaching the Kirkham junction of the M55. The road is a key link between Fleetwood and the motorway.
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This time make it happen...

That is the message to roads chiefs after a consultation was launched over proposals to build a new road linking Fleetwood to the M55, as revealed by The Gazette yesterday.

Highways England is hoping to see work start by 2020.

The Government Agency wants to reconstruct or completely bypass two miles of road notorious for jams.

Problems on the A585 have been blamed for the loss of ferry services to Fleetwood and are a constant thorn in the side of businesses along the delay-plagued route.

Nearly a decade ago Lancashire County Council carried out a huge consultation exercise on several potential routes before the preferred ‘Blue’ route was blocked by Whitehall chiefs.

Having been promised a new link road in the past some people remain sceptical the scheme will go ahead, although many would welcome the benefit of faster links to the motorway network.

Two options have been put forward as part of a consultation - one for improvements to existing roads,the other for a massive new dual carriageway bypass.

Villagers in Singleton are concerned both would lead to more disruption both in the short and long term.

SO WHAT’S THE PLAN?

Highways England says it wants to have improvements to the A585 completed by 2020.

The agency will present two options to the public at a series of roadshows starting next week. One option is to improve the existing roads.

Highways England has suggested part of Garstang Road could be converted to dual carriageway with junction and other capacity improvements carried out between Windy Harbour and the River Wyre roundabout. The second option is far more radical.

It would involve the construction of a new dual carriageway across farmland.

The new road would leave the current route before Little Singleton junction, diving into a cutting under Lodge Lane before joining Garstang Road at a new roundabout.

The dual carriageway would then continue across farmland until rejoining the existing at a new junction close to the Skippool Service Station on Mains Lane. A budget of £50m has been set aside for the bypass.

It was mooted before - what happened?

Fylde coast residents could be forgiven for thinking they’ve heard it all before.

Nearly a decade ago Lancashire County Council held extensive consultations over potential routes for a link road between the M55 and Fleetwood.

Seven possible routes, colour coded Red, Yellow, Pink, Purple, Green, Brown and Blue, were put to the public.

After extensive consultations, costing more than £50,000, the people of Lancashire opted for the blue route, cutting from Norcross across farmland to a new junction on the M55 near Weeton.

Those plans were sunk in 2008 when the Department for Transport made clear no new junctions would be built on the M55.

That hasn’t stopped some clinging onto the idea the route could be built.

Last year, when the idea of a Singleton bypass was first floated by Highways England, Coun Maxine Chew, who represents Singleton on Fylde Council, made clear her views that a new dual carriageway alone would not solve the congestion problems along the route.

She wanted Government to look again at the Blue route as a long term option to the Fylde coast’s traffic problems.

What are people saying?

Steve Lynton owns Fleetwood’s Granada Fish Bar and is a prominent businessman in the port.

He said: “We’ve been here before.

“They told us all the options and then nothing happened.

“I think a lot of people will be suspicious until the actually see work happening.

“We were told we were a priority when the last consultation happened.

“Since then Lytham has jumped the queue and their link road will be done before ours.

“The there’s the disruption when the work starts.

“We saw how bad it was when Windy Harbour was done.

“There will be delays, no doubt.

“They have to be worth it.

“We need a solution which stops the delays all the way to Fleetwood.

“It’s no good having a new road to the River Wyre and no improvements beyond.

“People in Fleetwood want a link which will benefit them, not just Poulton, Blackpool and Cleveleys.”

Darren Abey is currently leading the fight to bring ferry services back to Fleetwood.

He said: “We went through this a few years ago.

“Is anything going to come from it this time?

“We’ve got the barrage scheme, we’ve got the ferry talks and Fleetwood needs something like this.

“At the moment the town is a dead end.

“It needs investment, we need investment.

“Stena Line pulled out because the road links were so bad.

“If we want to attract businesses back to Fleetwood we have to have that link.

“I know how bad it can be, I used to drive lorries from the port and sometimes it could take 50 minutes to get to the motorway.

“I’d favour the new dual carriageway, maybe then we could be on the motorway in 15 or 20 minutes.”

Coun Howard Ballard represents Bourne Ward in Thornton, which includes the former ICI site at Hillhouse.

The industrial site, now an enterprise zone, is home to numerous chemicals and engineering firms which rely on exports for much of their trade.

He said: “This cannot come soon enough.

“It has been wanted on the Fylde coast for a long time.

“We’ve needed the new road for 20 or 30 years.

“New homes are being built in the area and it is vital the road network can come.

“I do not have a preferred option.

“I will wait to see what the people of Wyre want and I will be guided by their opinion.

“But this road is vital for Hillhouse and the future of the people who work there.

“It is an enterprise zone and hopefully with better transport links we will be able to attract new businesses and jobs.”

Preston North and Wyre MP Ben Wallace hopes his constituents in Poulton and Thornton will benefit from faster journey times.

He said: “I have spoken to officials from Highways England and I understand there are a number of options up for consideration.

“I think it is good.

“One option would essentially restore Little Singleton to being a village.

“I amd sure it is something that the people of Fleetwood will be behind because it will allow the through put of traffic.

“But at the same time I am sure everything will be done to shield the people who currently live along any proposed route from the impact of increased traffic.

“I think it is good news that these options are being put forward.

“It is vitally important we see this investment in our roads.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said some concerns had been raised by Singleton residents whose community would be closest to the proposed route of any new road.

He also asked for a direct link from Norcross to the M55 to be considered by Highways chiefs.

He said: “I was pleased when the Government announced it was investing £50m to relieve the pressure on the A585 and the misery for many people in Little Singleton who face long queues of heavy goods vehicles outside their homes for hours each day.

“However, as with all these things, it is important the solution does not just move those issues elsewhere and I recently met with senior officers from Highways England to view the options for the new road currently on the table.

“During that meeting, I made it clear that it was vital a rigorous public consultation exercise was carried out to ensure local people had the opportunity to have their say on the scheme.

“I also reiterated my opinion that the original blue route should remain in consideration and was assured that the current preferred option for this bypass would create the first section of that route and the option to extend it in the future remains.

“I know some issues have already been raised by local people in Singleton and have urged them to take part in the consultation process and let them know I am happy to pass any concerns on to Highways England should they wish to contact me.”

Bob Gallagher is chairman of Singleton Parish Council and said residents were concerned by the schemes being put forward.

He said: “We have had people coming to the Parish Council meeting and telling us just how worried they are.

“These are major schemes.

“The Wyre local plan calls for clarity on how traffic flows can be improved on the A585.

“That is about Wyre building new houses.

“Fleetwood will benefit, Wyre will benefit.

“But that’s two areas seeing positive impacts while we will suffer.

“We have invited Mark Menzies to come down to the consultation to hear residents’ views and to attend a parish council meeting.

“The works associated with these schemes could be hugely disruptive.

“Improvements to the current route is probably a little less intrusive but it will not deliver the traffic flow benefits required.

“We have already seen significant works taking place around Singleton and we do not want to see more.

“The preferred option remains the old Blue route, linking the motorway directly to Norcross.”

Coun Paul Hayhurst represents Fylde West on Lancashire County Council. He believes the proposed 2.7 mile bypass would not solve delays for motorway traffic.

He said: “This is merely a cosmetic exercise.

“It may alleviate some of the problems on Mains Lane but the area between Windy Harbour and the motorway remains untouched.

“It may solve some problems for the short term but anybody who thinks it is a permanent solution is in cloud cuckoo land.

“That is a road with some very dangerous junctions where delays are common.

“The answer is the blue route and the only benefit here is that part of that would be built.

“There are obviously some aspects of the schemes being put forward which have caused concerns for residents in Singleton and I will be working with the Parish Council to ensure they are addressed.”