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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Cumbrian villagers vow to continue traffic fight

Residents battling to have one of north Cumbria’s busiest roads downgraded have promised to continue their fight after a public meeting.

John Mallinson photo
John Mallinson

Campaigners are hoping to get the A69 “detrunked” with traffic diverted along the A689, at Brampton, because of road safety concerns.

County councillor John Mallinson, who represents the Houghton and Irthington division, faced some tough questions over the issue from people living in Warwick-on-Eden.

The village hall was packed and Mr Mallinson told them the he would help them where possible but, realistically, he felt such a move would not happen.

Last December a petition over road safety concerns was launched by residents living along the A69 and it was eventually signed by 1,600 people.

Campaigners claim that the route is unsuitable for heavy volumes of traffic and HGVs – particularly over the 19th century sandstone bridge at Warwick Bridge, which was originally designed for horse and carts and not wide enough to allow two 41 tonne HGVs pass each other.

Two local MPs, Carlisle’s John Stevenson and Penrith and the Border’s Rory Stewart, both lent their support to the campaign and earlier this year the petition was presented to Parliament.

In August Mr Stevenson invited Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to Warwick Bridge to see the issues for himself but at the time he said that the decision lay with Cumbria County Council.

However, the authority has said it would demand government funding if such a move was deemed necessary.

Penny Ritson, who organised the meeting, said that a trunk road was the recommended route for HGVs and that particular part of the A69 bisects four villages.

Mrs Ritson, who lives in Warwick-on-Eden, said there were three alternatives: to do nothing, to build a bypass – a move which was rejected in 1978 – or to detrunk the road.

She said that detrunking was the preferred option which would divert 12,000 HGVs along the A689 every week.

However Mr Mallinson said: “I’ve done quite a bit of research into it and it is my considered view that it is not going to happen any time soon.”

He added that there was not much interest in such a move within the Ministry of Transport.

Mr Mallinson said that he was sure Warwick Bridge was strong enough but added: “Its problem is that it is too narrow.”

He invited those at the meeting to compile a list of their concerns which he would try his best to get answers to.

After the meeting Mrs Ritson said: “I was disappointed that he was non-committal. To say that we have to wait for this or that is side stepping the issue.”

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