Lancashire County Council to blame for town’s traffic chaos | Burnley Express Letters

From: Roger Barstow Frost MBE, MA. (Former Mayor of Burnley)
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I have been reading letters from local residents and businessmen about work currently being done to local highways.

Over recent weeks there have been comments made about the “Town to Turf” scheme, in the Yorkshire Street and Kierby Walk area, and I have noticed others, particularly on Accrington Road, Colne Road, in Reedley, on Eastern Avenue, Todmorden Road and Rossendale Road, all in Burnley. Similarly, roads not directly affected have become so because of the effect of these works on general traffic. I would mention Ormerod Road, which now carries re-routed bus services, and is affected by the Town to Turf scheme, the Trafalgar Street area which is affected by road works on Manchester Road, and the latter which has its own problems. I realise that I have not mentioned all of the schemes, but some people have suggested that Burnley Borough Council is responsible for the chaos which has ensued. The impact that these schemes have had on residents, businesses, pedestrians, motorists, taxi firms and bus companies has been very considerable, but it is the Highway Authority (the Lancashire County Council) this is to blame.

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Town 2 Turf roadworks at the end of January 2024. Photo: Kelvin Lister-StuttardTown 2 Turf roadworks at the end of January 2024. Photo: Kelvin Lister-Stuttard
Town 2 Turf roadworks at the end of January 2024. Photo: Kelvin Lister-Stuttard
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I would concede that some of the works have been carried out by a number of the utility companies or private builders. The suppliers of gas might be mentioned, in more than one case. The work on Accrington Road, in the Hapton area, has not only caused long delays but the work itself has blighted the local countryside and may have had an adverse effect on the site of Burnley’s only lost medieval village, that of Birtwistle. I intend to check that out, when the weather improves, but I did mention that construction of several immense buildings was too close for comfort to Birtwistle. Clearly nothing has been done by the authorities (this time, Burnley BC which is responsible for local planning).

However, the Lancashire County Council, a “top tier” authority, though it might not carry some road works directly, it is still responsible for ensuring that the works are carried out promptly, efficiently, cost effectively and with the least damage to local resident’s lives and to local businesses. It is clear that the work in the “Town to Turf” scheme fails the first of these criteria. Similarly, businesses on Yorkshire Street have claimed that the works have had an adverse effect on their business. The 110, Club has closed. The landlady of the “Royal Dyche” has made similar comments on the profitability of her business, and now we hear that the estimable owner of the Continental restaurant, on Kierby Walk, entertains fears that his business is about to be or has already been affected.

Local people might like to know that I have it, on good authority, that the works on Rossendale Road, which are adjacent to one of Burnley’s most important industrial estates, the town’s cemetery and one of its War Memorials, were not flagged up effectively to local businesses, residents and public services. Those who have knowledge of this site will be aware of traffic jams all the way down to Liverpool Road, in one direction, and God knows where in the other. Accrington Road has also been affected.

It is not only the cost and inconvenience to business and residents that concerns me, but, on Friday afternoon of last week, a number of people attended the funeral of the late Brian Hall MBE. The service started about 20 minutes late because, as I understand it, the hearse was delayed as were people making their way to the Crematorium.

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These delays need to be sorted out by the County Council. I do not think that any of our Burnley County Councillors have done very much to help us in this respect. What is important, however, is that the Lancashire County Council wants to take power from the Second-Tier authorities, like Burnley, in the so-called Lancashire Devolution Scheme which is under consideration at the present time. Burnley, and North-east Lancashire, particularly the older industrial towns, should never have been included, for local government purposes, in Lancashire. In the 1960’s, it was the intention of the Redcliffe-Maud Report, for Burnley, with adjacent areas, to be given unitary status. This was the plan of Harold Wilson’s Labour government, but, unfortunately, Ted Heath’s Tories won the 1970 General Election and did not follow the recommendations of the Report for blatant political reasons.

Both Blackburn and Blackpool now have unitary status, though that was not the case at first, fifty years ago. They are free of control from the Lancashire County Council, perhaps the most diverse of the Shire Authorities. Blackburn and Blackpool can, for instance, manage and maintain their own highways. In Burnley, several important road schemes have not been implemented whereas in neighbouring unitary areas they have been able to build new roads. See for yourself. Take a day trip to Blackburn. There are new roads all over the town.

Blackburn was once criticised, in famous song, by The Beatles, for 4,000 holes in the town’s roads. That now applies to “Second Tier” Burnley struggling away under the yoke of the LCC.