'We just want to be safe': Residents calling for bypass get mixed signals over plans

Campaigners desperate for a bypass to ease congestion in their village have received mixed messages about whether or not the idea will ever come to fruition.

Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 9:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 10:28 am
Residents in Flockton say the bypass is needed to ease congestion.

Residents in Flockton have been calling for a relief road to dilute the volume of traffic passing through the village since the 1930s.

The village sits in Kirklees, close to the border of the south-west of Wakefield, but is often used by HGVs and coaches as a shortcut to get to the M1, with a knock-on effect on traffic in the nearby villages of Overton, Middlestown and Netherton.

Calls for a new road to bypass Flockton have intensified over the past two years, after new houses for the area were given planning permission.

Calls have intensified since more housebuilding in the village was signed off.

But on the same day Wakefield Council poured cold water on the idea, the local authority in Kirklees said they were committed to "pursuing" cash from the government for it.

Flockton resident Kath Middleton said: "We just want something to make us safe.

"The road is too narrow and the pavements are too narrow for the HGVs and coaches that come along here.

"Parents are taking their children to school and being clipped by wing mirrors because it’s that tight.

Councillor Matthew Morley said the scheme would not benefit Wakefield.

"When the new houses are built the traffic coming along here will increase by around 300 to 400 cars and the road will be gridlocked.

"All we can hope is that the two councils can come together and sort out a plan to help the village."

But speaking about the issue at a council meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Wakefield Council's portfolio holder for transport, Matthew Morley, said a bypass would result in more congestion in the village of West Bretton, which lies three miles to the east of Flockton.

Coun Morley said: "The impact on West Bretton would be devastating because Junction 38 of the M1 would be a much more desirable route.

"We cannot support this. It wouldn't be fair to Kirklees, it wouldn't be fair to West Bretton and it wouldn't be fair to the long-term aspirations of the Wakefield district."

But within minutes of that, Kirklees Council put out their own statement on the matter.

Although acknowledging the scheme would be expensive, they said it was still a possibility.

A Kirklees Council spokesperson said: "We understand local residents’ desire for a Flockton bypass which is why we have looked at a scheme several times over recent years.

"We are looking to carry out a study into the benefits of upgrading the A637 which may also include a bypass for Flockton and other improvements in the area.

"However, this study would come at a significant financial cost. We have been unsuccessful in putting the scheme forward for inclusion in bids for funding up to now but we will continue to pursue this.

"We take residents’ concerns very seriously, which is why earlier this year we worked with police to reword a long-standing traffic order which prohibits heavy goods vehicles from travelling through Flockton Village on Barnsley Road in one direction.

"This now means it’s easier for police to take action against those who breach it. We have also introduced 20 mph speed limits in parts of the village to improve road safety."

Mrs Middleton said she disputed Coun Morley's claims, insisting there was "no evidence" it would create extra congestion in West Bretton.

Local Democracy Reporting Service