Criticism grows of A17 scheme

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Community and political leaders in South Holland are stepping up their campaign to force a £2.5million plan to expand the A17 “off the road”.

Gedney, Lutton, Long Sutton and Sutton Bridge Parish Councils have joined forces with district and county councillors in calling on county highways leaders to think again about improvements to the A17 through their areas.

Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) wants to use money from a £5.4million government grant to create an overtaking lane on the A17 between Gedney and Long Sutton.

The council then wants to carry out similar work further along the A17 in Long Sutton between Station Road and Seagate Road.

But David Wilkinson, chairman of Lutton Parish Council, said: “There has been no official notification from LCC to us and I am appalled that there has been no apparent consultation for such a major road scheme.

“I have read about the so-called benefits, which are tenuous at best, and the scheme is of great concern to me as I believe it will have a detrimental effect on the A17 Lutton Garnsgate junction.

“It also seems bizarre that in most cases, three-lane stretches of road within the county have been removed for safety reasons and this section does not have a high incident rate as far as I am aware.

“So it begs the question why spend £2.5million on it, rather than sort out some other roads which are dangerous?”

The scheme, when first announced by LCC in March, was described as a way of increasing overtaking opportunities to reduce journey times.

But Peter Coupland, LCC member for Holbeach Rural, branded the scheme as “flawed” at a meeting of Gedney Parish Council last month.

Since then, Sutton Bridge Parish Council has also raised objections and Chris Brewis, LCC member for Sutton Elloe said: “It is less than a decade ago that a ‘central’ lane on the A17 was removed between Cross Keys Bridge (Sutton Bridge) and the Norfolk boundary following accidents.

“There have been very few incidents since and so I sincerely hope that the scheme does not go ahead as proposed.”

A spokesman for Long Sutton Parish Council said: “The council is vociferously opposed to this proposal and feels it is madness to introduce such a measure for an area of the A17 that is safer than most.

“To introduce a third lane would encourage drivers to overtake and to take risks which would inevitably result in needless loss of life.”

Its views were backed by one of the town’s district councillors, Laura Eldridge, who said: “I am completely opposed to this proposition asI think this would be a health and safety disaster and a huge danger to drivers.”

Hopes of a rethink were raised by Mr Coupland at Gedney Parish Council’s August meeting when he said: “All local district and county councillors have the same views so a change of direction by LCC may be on the cards.

“This shows that local views, backed by local knowledge, can sometimes have an effect if we all act as a cohesive group.”

South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes, a Minister at the Department of Transport, said: “Let’s be guided by local knowledge and experience so that, hopefully, we can get an outcome that we all want.”

An LCC highways spokesman said: “The A17 Gedney project is only in its very early stages and local views will be taken into consideration in deciding the best way forward.”