New twist in ‘rat run’ saga

CONTROVERSIAL plans to close a “rat run” – five years after the issue was first raised – are no further forward after councillors agreed to review the decision.

In September, Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee voted to close Falcon Road after residents in the street raised concerns about the safety and volume of traffic.

But hundreds of people living elsewhere on the Bishop Cuthbert estate launched a petition demanding the decision be reviewed.

Those against the closure say it will increase traffic on other roads, particularly Hart Lane, meaning people will struggle to get off the estate in bad weather and that there are now only two access roads on to the estate.

Councillors agreed to take another look at a meeting of the full council.

Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves, who presented the report at the meeting, said: “This dates back to 2006.

“We have been talking about this issue for the last five years.

“All of the people involved in the decision, and have been for the last five years, gathered all the information and it was debated thoroughly at the time.”

Senior councillors voted to close Falcon Road in September because of the “adverse impact” it was having on the lives of the people living in the street.

It was taken despite the results of the last round of consultation showing the vast majority of people, 475 out of 527, wanted it to remain open.

In response, 1,650 people signed a petition slamming the move to shut Falcon Road.

As well as the petition, 218 residents also objected to a legal order to close the road, which is currently still open.

Coun Hargreaves, who was among those to vote in favour of the closure at the cabinet meeting, added: “With that amount of concern we should take it back for reconsideration.”

Labour councillor Rob Cook was approached for advice by concerned residents after he voiced his concerns over the closure in the Mail.

Coun Cook, who represents the Hart ward, read out a letter at the full council meeting on behalf of those behind the petition.

He said: “This will open the floodgates for other residents demanding the same treatment.

“Closing off this road will effect other roads in the area.

“We require justification of the decision considering the level of opposition in the council’s own consultation exercise.”

He also claimed that traffic calming measures recently installed had been a success and that Falcon Road was always intended to be an access road.

Supporters of the petition burst into a round of applause as Coun Cook came to the end of his four-minute presentation.

Councillors then unanimously voted to ask the cabinet to review its decision.

If the busy road is eventually closed, it will cost about £5,000 and will mean residents having to use Hart Lane to travel to and from the town centre.

l Mail view: Page 8