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Anger over council's rat run decision

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RESIDENTS have reacted angrily to a Warrington Borough Council traffic committee’s refusal to ban through traffic from a “rat run.”
Members of the Longbarn Residents’ Association are furious at the committee decision to ignore officers’ recommendation to make Harpers Road “access only.”
Local councillor Geoff Settle – a member of the committee – is also bitterly disappointed at the decision.
He said: “I have been working with residents for many years towards such a recommendation and stood down from the committee to speak in support of the proposed order that would have made Harpers Road access only.”
Harpers Road is about 1250 metres in length and subject to a 30mph speed limit. There are no houses on it – but it does provide the only means of access to about 825 dwellings in the area.
The residents association and local councillors claim that traffic using Harpers Road as a through route is increasing, resulting in road safety and congestion problems.
Concern has also been expressed about overflow parking from businesses on Olympic Park migrating to residential roads off Harpers Road where obstructive parking takes place on a daily basis.
Cllr Settle said: “We believed we had a very strong case that would address many issues including reducing traffic congestion, give local residents a better chance of getting on to Harpers Road during the ‘Rat Run’ rush hour, encourage drivers to use the designated routes, like the expressway and address the parking issues related to the Olympic Park.”
He added the National Crime Agency, who have premises on Olympic Park, had pointed out that they could not impose conditions on where their staff park.
But if Harpers Road became “access only” that situation would change.
“One of the objectors who lives off Manchester road, close to the motorway, even had the tenacity to state that they use Green Lane and then Harpers Road to drive to Birchwood High School rather than Woolston Grange Avenue which is a much shorter route! They also admitted that Harpers Road traffic crawls during the rush hour and sometimes is at a standstill.”
Woolston Parish Council opposed the access only order and claimed Harpers Road was a useful alternative route when there were M6 motorway issues. They claimed traffic flows and decreased since a survey had been carried out in 2007 and were consistent with local traffic flows.
But a spokesman for Longbarn Residents’ Association said the parish council’s objections were based on a seriously flawed traffic study.
Harpers Road was designed as a local residential estate road, feeding only small estate roads. It had blind bends and was not intended as a through route, unlike Birchwood Way which was only a few metres away, ran parallel to it and was specifically for through traffic.
The flawed report also stated there was no problem with cars parking outside people’s homes in Burnet Close and Blackburne Close – a statement which was flatly untrue.
Members of the residents association say they have taken more than 400 photographs showing illegally or inconsiderately parked cars and congestion on Harpers Road.
Pictures: Queue of traffic on Harpers Road (right) and non-residents car parked in Burnet Close.

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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