Neighbours have accused Central Beds Council of a “lack of democracy” after the decision to introduce traffic-calming measures in Downs Road, Dunstable, writes Richard Redman.
The decision to make Downs Road one way was made following a consultation period to choose from one of seven ‘solutions’ to reduce cut-through traffic between Church Street and High Street South.
Councillor Neal Reynolds said at a meeting he hosted on Wednesday that nothing should have been done in the first place as money could be better spent elsewhere.
A petition was submitted from 36 households in Downs Road following an experimental road closure last year, provoking the consultation.
On November 27, a further petition from Downs Road was received by the council.
Mr Reynolds said the second petition “appears to be nothing more than an attempt to massage percentages in their favour”. He added: “Considering the financial situation, Central Beds Council cannot justify wasting any more taxpayers’ money on this.”
Resident Alan Salter said that most voters were under the impression the system was ‘one vote per household’, but that a total of 113 votes were registered from 73 households in Downs Road. He added: “Why was it only Downs Road that were told you could vote more than once per house? The council used the 36 households in Downs Road as an excuse to approve the highly divisive closure and one way systems.
“In a town where traffic problems are the number one issue and with the prospect of thousands more cars going through the crossroads, Central Beds Council might have underestimated their electorate and picked a very big fight.”
Resident Chris Ebsworth added: “There’s a bad smell about the whole thing.” John Taylor, of Borough Road, said: “Councillors are directly elected to represent the people. If we embrace a consultation we must listen to and act for the majority.”
Nick Tarrant, of Grove Road, said: “This is a complete lack of democracy. Voting has been done hush-hush and underhand.” Debbie Tarrant said: “I’m sick of our council tax being spent on what the minority want. Stop spending our money.”
Councillor Brian Spurr said: “This was a process of consultation, rather than a vote, which asked residents for their views in order to determine what traffic calming measures might be appropriate. Residents offered their thoughts on a number of options.
“Downs Road and Park Road will become one way only towards their junctions with Great Northern Road. The remaining lengths of those roads stay as two way and can be used as such. There is no closure in Park Road but there is a small closure proposed at the top end of Downs Road between its junctions with Borough Road and Half Moon Lane. Access into and through the residential area is fully maintained and the proposals only re-distribute some of the traffic away from Downs Road.”
A Central Beds Council spokesman added: “The petition for yellow lines being rejected at Howard Place has not been formally reported to the traffic management meeting as the petition has only recently been received.
“It will be presented at the next available traffic management meeting for consideration and decision.”
Mr Reynolds will host a public meeting on Wednesday, January 23 at the United Services Club in High Street South at 8pm.
There will be a full statutory consultation in which residents scan have their say. Visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.