FURIOUS residents have slammed Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond’s decision to remove a “lifeline” pedestrian crossing.
Cash-strapped Hartlepool Borough Council spent £40,000 on installing the crossing in Blakelock Gardens in March 2011 to improve safety.
But Mayor Drummond has agreed to remove the crossing – at a further expense of £10,000 – because of concerns from residents living close by that it was making the road more dangerous and that people were not using it.
Now those who originally campaigned for the crossing have voiced their own concerns.
Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, who represents the Burn Valley ward, said there was “unanimous condemnation” of the decision by residents at a recent meeting of the Burn Valley North Residents’ Association.
In an email to Mayor Drummond, seen by the Mail, Coun Brash said residents believe the crossing is a “well used and vital asset” to the local community and said it was a “waste” of money to spend £40,000 installing it and a further £10,000 to remove it.
Coun Brash, who said the decision was “ill thought out and not based on officer advice or evidence”, added: “This decision has caused enormous anger and upset amongst many residents in the Burn Valley ward.
“I have spoken to people who describe this crossing as a ‘lifeline’ that was well used and a vital asset, particularly for disabled, visually impaired and older people who find it impossible to cross such a busy road.
“They have told me that they are distraught at the mayor’s decision.”
Mayor Drummond made the U-turn decision at a recent meeting of his regeneration and neighbourhoods portfolio to the delight of those residents that wanted it removed.
The crossing will be removed and there are also plans to introduce a 20mph speed limit plus other traffic-calming measures, subject to consultation.
Coun Brash added: “I know not everyone liked the crossing, but to remove it now when it acts as a ‘lifeline’ for vulnerable people is wrong.
“I have asked Stuart to meet councillors and residents to discuss this matter and I hope he reconsiders.”
Meanwhile, Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves, who made the original decision, said: “The decision to install this crossing was based on one thing – resident safety.
“Blakelock Gardens is a very dangerous road and many, many residents asked for this scheme.
“It was supported by the central neighbourhood forum and the Town Centre Communities Forum and all the evidence and officer advice supported my decision.
“I think the mayor has made a very ill conceived decision, which is a knee-jerk reaction and not based on sound evidence.”
Mayor Drummond said he was aware of the concerns and had been in contact with Coun Brash.
He added: “He is quite within his rights to get other members to instigate a call-in.
“I would have thought that would be the sensible route to take.”
The crossing cost around £40,000, with the Central Neighbourhood Consultative Forum contributing £15,000 and the Town Centre Communities NAP Forum £10,000.