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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Battle for A590 underpass

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HOPE: Concillor Jim Bland in the controversial underpass that alleviates the neccesity of doing U-turns on the A590. Cllr Bland and residents are hoping the underpass could gain carriageway status. MILTON HAWORTH REF: 50011482B001

AN UNDERPASS used as a short cut could be blocked off to motor vehicles.

Motorists and cyclists are at loggerheads over plans to ban cars from using the underpass near Witherslack.

The route is used as a short cut to avoid some of the traffic on the A590.

But a local cyclist has complained to Cumbria County Council about motor vehicles using the underpass as it classed as a bridle path – which means it is illegal for cars to use.

The cyclist has taken the case to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The ombudsman has told the county council to block the underpass and pay £500 compensation for the suffering the cyclist has endured while cars continued to use the underpass.

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said: “As use of the bridle path by motorists is illegal, the council must be seen to uphold the law.

“If a fatal accident were to occur on the bridle path because the council ignored the Ombudsman’s recommendations, the chief executive could face manslaughter charges.

“We will be meeting with the parish council and informing them of our decision.”

But residents and Cumbria county councillor Jim Bland are hoping the underpass could gain carriageway status to allow motor vehicles to use the stretch.

Residents are pursuing to have the underpass upgraded to a Byway Open to All Traffic by having the definitive map and statement of public rights of way for Cumbria modified.

If Witherslack Parish Council’s BOAT application is opposed, it will then be deferred to the Secretary of State.

The waiting list for applications like this, at this level, is approximately two years, with some cases having taken up to 25.

Cllr Bland said: “There is every reason for it to go ahead, but I think the cyclists could appeal against it.

“That could lead to an expensive legal dispute that will create more problems.”

The council believes traffic has increased along the underpass since Batemans Garage in Grange stopped selling petrol around five years ago.

Greystones BP garage on the A590 is now the closest place for nearby residents of Grange, Witherslack and Levens to fill up their cars.

Motorists have to drive along the dual carriageway to fill up with fuel.

This involves a dangerous U-turn across both fast lanes on the return journey.

Many drivers find it safer to turn left for Witherslack and take the underpass to join the inside lane of the opposite carriageway.

Cllr Bland said: “The last thing we want is more fatal accidents. It is difficult to judge speed on that road.

“A lot of people in Witherslack are elderly and find it difficult to cross the highway.”

The county council spokesman said that until the application is granted it will have to enforce the law.

The blocking of the underpass is likely to be passed at the county council’s next development, control and negotiations committee on October 20.

Have your say

This is yet another case of one individual intefering with the day to day lives of the local population. I've used this underpass on occasion, both as a driver and a cyclist for the best part of the last 30 years. I have never had one single problem with it. It really would be the most pointless decision if it goes ahead, and one that would very likely lead to some bad accidents at that junction. No offence to the elderly residents of Grange, but their driving can leave a lot to be desired at times. The thought of one of them attempting to turn around on a busy A590 on a dark, rainy winters night, when they've been denied the use of the underpass doesn't bear thinking about. This nonsense needs to stop now!

Posted by Jonathan Kearsley on 30 October 2010 at 14:22

I wonder if B Sellick will be surprised to find that one barrier to the underpass will be a fence which blocks off the bridleway splay he refers to, where it would have been possible to turn round and rejoin the carriageway to return to Grange! I have informed the Council but they said, as it is a bridleway, no vehicles may use it!
Where did B Sellick get a copy of the Ombudsman's Final Ajudication. I was informed today by Legal Services that there is no official Report as such, because the issues have been resolved by way of a local settlement.

Posted by Lis on 15 October 2010 at 18:02

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