Monday, July 08, 2019

The A595

Since my election to Cumbria County Council just over two years ago I have taken a leaf from the example of Cato the Censor.

Cato supposedly expressed the view "Carthago Delenda Est" (Carthage must be destroyed) in every speech he made to the Roman Senate.

In my case I have so far managed to find a means of mentioning the need to improve the A595 at every occasion when the full council has gathered since my election and intend to keep doing so as long as I serve on that council and can catch the chair's eye.

Usually I ask a question about it under the item on questions from councillors, though the meeting before last I fitted it in to an item about new roads, and at the June meeting I wanted to ask a question about the need to consult service users properly about the planned move of the Daniel Hay library in Whitehaven to the Archives centre site.

So instead I made a short speech about the A595 at the end of the meeting. Here are my notes for the speech. (I wasn't timing myself so I don't know if I actually took the 75 seconds I estimated when I rehearsed it, and I delivered the speech from memory rather than reading it so the odd word may have been different, but this is pretty much what I said.)

"Chairman, Council

Can I please take 75 seconds of your time to stress that we as a council need to continue to focus on the issues with the A595.

Members representing the west of the county will be well aware that the A595 is the only major road, insofar as it deserves that name, running through large parts of the west of the county and the only major road route providing access to one of the largest employers in the county, e.g. the Sellafield nuclear site.

The fact that it does not remotely have the capacity to take even current demand, let alone what is likely to be needed to meet future developments, has a major impact on the quality of life of residents of practically every town or settlement on the west coast as traffic diverts through unsuitable roads, and is also a major brake on the economic development of West Cumbria.

Members will be aware of the recent consultation on a possible Whitehaven relief road and we are waiting to hear if this makes it into the Autumn Statement, and of the welcome improvements planned at Dove Ford Farm at Grizebeck, but many other junctions both in the part of the road managed by Highways England and the stretch south of Calderbridge managed by this council also need improvement.

A couple of weeks ago councillors Morgan, Turner and I met Highways England to discuss some of the issues and they are giving members of the Copeland local committee a briefing next week.

I want to flag that local members are particularly concerned to ensure that action is taken to deal with the Moresby Viaduct section in a timely and properly planned way. As of today, the road is safe but sooner or later action will need to be taken to deal with the movement of the ground underneath before it ceases to be. The consequences in terms of disruption to people’s lives if the road has to be closed on an emergency basis before a proper plan and an alternative route is in place do not bear thinking about.

As I’ve said we are talking to Highways England about this and so is the portfolio holder but it important that all members are aware of the importance of the issue."

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