A bid which secured £2.4 million from the Department of Transport to fund a new traffic scheme at Hipperholme crossroads is severely flawed, it has been claimed.
Statements made in the bid by Calderdale Council have been questioned by members of Hipperholme Preservation Society which, they claim, are misrepresentations and inaccuracies. They say it is a false claim on Government funds and should be withdrawn.
In order to go ahead two pieces of land currently owned by Christ Church and The Whitehall pub need to be acquired. The bid says: “The developer partner is in dialogue with the owners of the third party land and the principle of a sale has been agreed on both of these plots.”
But chair of the group Bob Horne said: “Christ Church, in the information sheet they made available at the October 3 open day (more than seven months after the bid was submitted) say ‘no decision to recommend sale has been taken’.
“Information from the recently re-opened Whitehall pub suggests that the new leaseholders have no wish to sell any of the land.
“The letters relating to this ‘principle of sale’ are contained within Appendix B8i. This is not available for public scrutiny on the grounds that it contains ‘sensitive’ information.
“This, as has been already pointed out to relevant Calderdale officials, is a matter of public concern and all documentation should be available for inspection. It is untrue to say it is sensitive.”
The proposed scheme is meant to provide significant benefits to traffic passing through Hipperholme crossroads.
“Total travelled time during morning peak hour is forecast to reduce by 44 per cent.”
There will be “large travel time reductions in the afternoon peak hour of 25 per cent” according to the bid.
But Mr Horne added: “Vehicles travelling in the morning to Halifax will still be held up by the traffic lights at Stump Cross (where the tailback is invariably longer than that for westbound vehicles at Hipperholme crossroads) and halfway down New Bank at the Southowram junction.
“How can minutes by saved on the journey time to Halifax when these two major congestion points will remain? Similarly, eastbound vehicles will still be held up by traffic lights at Wyke Lion and at Bailiff Bridge.”
The bid says Marshalls is located a short distance away, and the question - can the scheme be described as controversial in anyway, is answered no. The council has since admitted the wrong box was ticked, says Mr Horne.
It also says that a mini-gyratory will improve pedestrian access around the junction, including access to local business and amenities, but the group believes this is not a problem now and people know how to use the green man facility. “The installation of the Leeds Road crossing four years ago further improved pedestrian access around the Hipperholme centre. The proposals make provision for 11 crossing places. Most of the roads will be crossed in two sections. Crossing a road will take longer. This is likely to cause frustration and risk-taking,” said Mr Horne.
The group is concerned that parking spaces will be reduced from 25 to 14.
The bid says that no external campaigns either supporting or opposing the scheme took place. “At the time of the bid, the public had not been informed of what was happening. Indeed, the MP and the local councillors were the only people with a local interest with any knowledge of the bid, and they had been informed a mere 24 hours before its submission,” said Mr Horne.
“Questionnaires which have been in local shops for some weeks demonstrate the feelings of the people of Hipperholme and district. At the present time there are 1809 signatories. To the question ‘Are you in favour of the road proposals for Hipperholme?’ 1804 have replied ‘no’. An overwhelming 99.72 per cent of local people do not want their village centre to be destroyed by an ill-advised scheme which, we maintain, will not result in any benefit to drivers, cyclists or pedestrians.”
Letters of support from the MP and two ward councillors were withdrawn.
A claim was made that the scheme would reduce the number killed or seriously injured. But Coun Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipp/Light) said in the past five years, there has been one accident at Hipperholme crossroads involving a pedestrian, who was slightly injured.
Mr Horne is also planning to ask a question at Full Council: ‘In view of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations in Calderdale’s successful application to the Department for Transport for funding for the Hipperholme crossroads proposals, does the Council agree that the only honourable action now is to withdraw the bid?’
Calderdale Council’s Head of Democratic and Partnership Services, Ian Hughes, said: “We are talking about our bid with the Department for Transport and will provide an update as soon as we can.”