‘Rat run’ road to stay open

Falcon Road

Falcon Road

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CAMPAIGNING residents have expressed their “relief” after senior councillors voted to keep a controversial road open and bring to an end a six-year saga.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee voted two to one in favour of overturning their earlier decision to close Falcon Road.

The road has divided the local community after some Falcon Road residents wanted it closing due to concerns about the safety and volume of traffic.

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But people living elsewhere on the Bishop Cuthbert estate were against because they said it would increase traffic on other roads, particularly Hart Lane, and leave only two access roads to the estate.

The cabinet committee, chaired by Mayor Stuart Drummond, took the decision to keep it open.

Speaking afterwards, freelance hairdresser Mandy O’Connelley, 43, of Goshawk Road, said: “After six years we are relieved that basic logic has prevailed.

“An estate the size of Bishop Cuthbert cannot survive with only two access roads.

“The road is not ideal and I have a great deal of sympathy for the people that live in Falcon Road, but the fact still remains it would have left limited access to the estate, which could have put lives at risk.”

The married mum-of-two added: “We are just relieved that the right decision has been made.”

In September last year, the cabinet voted to close the road due to resident concerns it was a “rat run”.

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

It led to hundreds of people living elsewhere on the estate launching a petition, signed by 1,650 residents, demanding the decision be reviewed.

Dave Stubbs, the director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “A new estate access from Easington Road is the answer but the funding is not available at the moment.”

Alastair Smith, the council’s assistant director (transportation and engineering), said based on the last round of consultation, keeping the road open was the sensible thing to do.

Cabinet members had a number of options but voted to keep Falcon Road open.

Mayor Drummond said: “My view has never changed.

“What I don’t want to do is start closing estates off as it sets an extremely dangerous precedent for the rest of town.”

He added: “This has been going on far too long, and I would expect that this is the end of it.”

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson said: “I am in favour of keeping it open.

“It has been looked at length but I don’t believe we can override 1,600 people who are against the closure.”

Meanwhile, independent councillor Cath Hill said she always thought it should be closed.

Retired police officer Malcolm Culley, who lives in Falcon Road, with wife Jennifer, 58, wanted the closure.

The 60-year-old dad-of-two, said: “We are disappointed with the decision and the way it was done.

“Because of the size of the cabinet committee, Mayor Drummond had the casting vote.

“We need to speak with our neighbours and see where we go from here.”