Blighted by HGV route changes

Coun David Parker seen beside the Whalton junction on the A197 Morpeth to Newcastle Road-concern about lorries.'REF 0705141202
Coun David Parker seen beside the Whalton junction on the A197 Morpeth to Newcastle Road-concern about lorries.'REF 0705141202

Communities could be facing a decade of disruption from HGV journeys after a u-turn at the council.

Town and parish councillors are furious at a decision to re-direct lorries from a housing development in Stannington along roads in Clifton, Morpeth and Tranwell.

The decision has been taken by Northumberland County Council using highways powers, without any consultation.

And no details have been given as to how many vehicles will be involved, or for how long the route will be used.

Morpeth town councillor David Parker said: “We have been given no detail at all.

“How many vehicles are we talking about and how often? Is it ten a day, two a day? It could be anything.

“It could be for eight to ten years, we don’t know, but it will certainly be over a long period of time. We don’t even know when this is starting, we have simply been told it is going to happen.”

The move follows approval of an extension of Hargreaves’ opencast operations at Well Hill, which included the introduction of a one-way system for HGVs amid concerns about the state of the Glororum road that was previously being used.

Now vehicles going to the site will come from the A1, along the A197 and via the Whalton Road to Tranwell, leaving the mine via Glororum, with 22 journeys each way a day for two-and-a-half years.

At the time, highways officers suggested that vehicles for the Bellway development of 245 homes at the former St Mary’s Hospital site could also use the one-way system.

But after objections from councillors in Morpeth and Mitford, the county council said that Bellway would continue to use its existing route.

Now it says the one-way system will be used afterall.

Coun Parker said: “It is regrettable that the county council has gone down the route of the Highways Act, rather than the planning process, which means Morpeth Town Council has been unable to make any comments in relation to this.

“It is not very good practice from the county council and that is very much to be deprecated.

“At a meeting with highways officers we made it quite clear that we were not happy about what was being proposed and would expect it to go through the planning process so the town and parish councils would at least get all the appropriate information and could make a response as statutory consultees.”

He added: “A building site needs bricks and timber so we could be faced with laden lorries coming through Loansdean.

“The road is very busy, the traffic is continuous so there are concerns about safety.

“There was major work done to the road two to three years ago and if there are massive lorries coming through for years it is going to make a lot of damage. If they are transporting materials we could also have bits dropping on the road.”

Mitford Parish Chairman Mike Sharp said: “We are very unhappy about this.

“We made representations to the highways department that before the Tranwell Village road was used by Hargreaves and Bellway we wanted speed control measures put in place and a structural assessment to be done where the road runs alongside a deep cut and a burn. That hasn’t happened.

“We don’t know how many vehicles will be using the route, or for how long, but the Bellway development is extensive and will probably go on for seven or eight years.

“These are country roads and they are not designed for modern heavy goods vehicles.”

He also raised concerns about safety.

“We have the disabled riding school in Tranwell, where people also stable horses, and whenever you drive through you see horse riders on the road. There are also cyclists.

“The roads are narrow and if lorries are going to be coming along, to my mind it is an accident waiting to happen.”

The county council says Bellway will use the route, but remedial repairs will be carried out, speed restrictions between 20mph and 30mph will be in place through Tranwell Village, a signage system will be introduced, a dilapidation survey will be carried out and overhanging branches will be cut back when possible.

A council spokeswoman said: “Hargreaves and Bellway using the HGV one-way system will half the amount of HGVs going through Glororum, reducing the risk of damage to roads and disruption to residents.”