Another challenge to Abington Street scheme thrown out

Coloured markings in Abington Street.
Coloured markings in Abington Street.

The latest challenge to plans to reopen part of Abington Street to traffic has been thrown out, paving the way for work to start in the spring.

Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors ‘called in’ the decision to allow the controversial £3 million scheme to go ahead last week.

But at a meeting at County Hall today, the original decision to grant a traffic regulation order for the road was upheld.

Concerns had been raised over emergency vehicle and disabled access, while councillors also said there hadn’t been adequate consultation on the plans.

The scheme, proposed by Northampton Borough Council, would see the road opened up from between St Giles Terrace and Wellington Street.

Addressing the meeting, Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Lib, Kingsthorpe South) said: “We are concerned the county council is claiming to make a decision at the behest of the borough council.

“While it may turn out our concerns over the legality of the move are not founded, neither council has been readily able to provide an answer to our questions.

“It is absurd to hold a consultation over the Christmas period, and it is demonstrably not an effective consultation if only 12 responses are received.”

Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Abington and Phippsville), added: “The crux is, the traffic regulation order is questionable on a number of grounds.

“We wonder if there is a conflict of interest between the county and the borough council, and we wonder if it contravenes Government advice on pedestrianisation and cycle routes.

“It is our contention that consultation is critical, and we would like to see a public inquiry.”

The authority’s cabinet member for highways said the consultation had been more than adequate, and had been extended by a week to January 21, to allow businesses to respond after Christmas.

Councillor Michael Clarke (Con, Hackleton and Grange Park) said: “This reminds me of two people who go to a concert, and halfway through they decide they don’t like it.

“The county council is not the conceiver of the plan. We are the highways authority, and the highways officers have behaved correctly and diligently.”