Controversial rat-run is now a road to nowhere

A controversial road closure is to be made permanent despite claims the move has increased congestion.

Saturday, 14th May 2016, 5:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th May 2016, 11:55 am
Midgeland Road
Midgeland Road

Midgeland Road has been closed at its junction with Division Lane since 2014 after residents complained the route was being used as a rat run by speeding motorists.

Following an experimental 18 month closure order, Blackpool Council has now made the action permanent.

The junction was shut following the closure of part of Wild Lane in August 2013 by Lancashire County Council due to safety concerns because the road surface was wearing away.

It meant drivers travelling between St Annes and Blackpool had to use Division Lane and Midgeland Road instead in order to reach School Road.

A study found more than 300 drivers used Midgeland Road during the morning and the evening rush hours – with 85 per cent of motorists speeding at 35mph or more.

However the closure means motorists have just two main routes between St Annes and Blackpool – Queensway and Clifton Drive North.

If there is an accident on either route, it leads to queues as traffic converges on the single remaining access.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “While I understand that closing the road was in the interests of a small number of residents of Midgeland Road, I have always thought it has heaped misery on motorists and added to the problems on the wider road network in the area.

“I am not convinced permanently closing one of the few routes between Blackpool and St Annes will impress anyone who has sat in long queues of traffic on Queensway or School Road in recent months.

“After I secured £2m Government money for the new M55 Lytham St Annes Link Road, following the closure of Wild Lane, hopefully we are getting to a stage where negotiations over additional funding and construction timescales between the other parties are complete and work will commence soon which will see roads being opened, rather than closed.”

Blackpool Council said it had received 231 comments from people in favour of making the closure permanent, compared to just eight objections to the move.

According to a council report, respondents said the closure had made the route safer for dog walkers, children, horse riders and cyclists.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for municipal assets, said: “Midgeland Road was never designed as a cut through but as a residential street.

“When Wild Lane was closed people began to use Midgeland Road as a rat run, in large numbers and at high speed, causing misery to the people who lived there.

“Since the temporary closure we have received many comments from people living across the Fylde coast saying it has made the road safer and asking us to make it permanent, which we will now be doing.”

The original decision to close the road was made by former Blackpool councillor John Jones when he was in charge of the borough’s highways.

He said at the time the only circumstances in which Midgeland Road would reopen is when a proposed £18m link is built between St Annes and the M55, or Lancashire County Council rebuilds crumbling Wild Lane, at a cost quoted at the time of £350,000.

There was congestion on routes in South Shore last month after a collison on Common Edge Road, outside South Shore Cricket Club.

The incident, during the Friday afternoon rush hour on April 22, meant traffic travelling between Blackpool and St Annes could not use Queensway and had to be diverted on the Promenade, leading to long tailbacks on alternative routes.