Link road action plea

Members of the South East Link Road Action Group (SELRAG) are lobbying Featherstone Town Council and Ackworth Parish Council to join them in pressing Wakefield Council for a bypass around Ackworth, Pontefract and Featherstone.
Members of the South East Link Road Action Group (SELRAG) are lobbying Featherstone Town Council and Ackworth Parish Council to join them in pressing Wakefield Council for a bypass around Ackworth, Pontefract and Featherstone.

CAMPAIGNERS are renewing their fight for a bypass around Ackworth, Pontefract and Featherstone by holding a public meeting next week.

Determined members of the South East Link Road Action Group (SELRAG) say they are continuing their 30-year battle for the bypass amid “serious fears” new housing developments could add to traffic 
problems.

Des Waites, chairman of the group, is calling for a “committed approach” from residents and councillors at the meeting on September 19.

He said: “We want active support from the parish council in Ackworth and the town council in Featherstone, and the district councillors whose wards are 
affected.

“We want a bypass around the towns to take away the traffic because it’s incessant, and it’s totally unacceptable in terms of volume and speed.

“We can’t tolerate a development in this area and maintain the increasing situation with traffic coming through Ackworth, Pontefract and 
Featherstone.”

SELRAG suffered setbacks in 2007 when the bypass was overlooked in Wakefield Council’s transport strategy, and again in 2009 when the Yorkshire and Humber Assembly’s Regional Transport Board turned down a multi-million pound link road plan.

At next week’s meeting, members will discuss the impact of housing developments pencilled in for all three towns, which they say will pile pressure on existing roads as more people travel to work.

Keith Shaw, club treasurer, said: “The growth plan for this area is for 2,800 dwellings. All this is going on and there’s been absolutely zero infrastructure to meet extra demands.

“All we get from the council is ‘use public transport and bicycles’. But people in these areas don’t always have local jobs and in places like Ackworth, there aren’t adequate bus or train services.”

Ian Thomson, the council’s service director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “The council has carried out an assessment of planned transport infrastructure improvements and the current local road network which supports the areas identified for development in the Local Development Framework.

“This has been found sound after an independent examination by a government planning inspector.

“However our road network is constantly being reviewed and as this continues it will take into consideration any future development in the area.”

Both Featherstone Town Council and Ackworth Parish Council showed its support for SELRAG’s campaign.

District and town Coun Dick Taylor said: “Myself and Coun Graham Isherwood are both members of SELRAG and we have always had support for a bypass.

“We do believe there should be a road to alleviate traffic in Featherstone and if we can work together to get a solution for everyone we would be 
delighted.”

Coun Sarah Balfour, chairman of Ackworth parish council, said: “The parish council is always concerned about safety on the roads through our village and actively supports SELRAG in its demands for a south east link road. Increased volume of traffic from new housing in the area will only add to existing problems and safety risks. The campaign must go on.”

The public meeting will take place at the Ackworth Community Centre on Bell Lane from 7.30pm.