Plans to close swathes of roads in and around Bushmead for the staging of a half marathon on Sunday have angered homeowners, with one telling the Herald & Post that the restrictions are “completely ridiculous”.
To help the staging of the second annual Love Luton half-marathon organisers have secured the closure of 70 roads along the route, with reopenings promised ‘at the end of the event’ at 7pm or ‘when it is deemed safe to do so’.
The route will take runners from Stockwood Park through Luton Hoo and the town centre, before going down Old Bedford Road, circling Bushmead and ending back at St George’s Square.
As a result the whole lengths of the following roads will be closed: Barnfield Avenue, Bridge Street, Bushmead Road, Cutenhoe Road, George Street, Gleneagles Drive, Hancock Drive, Hawkfields, Kingsdown Avenue, Old Bedford Road, Osborne Road, Park Street and Ringwood Road.
Sections of Cromer Way, Guildford Street, London Road, Manchester Street and Stockingstone Road will also be subject to partial closures.
The closures are scheduled from 7am to 7pm, though organisers say in practice they anticipate the restrictions to be in place from 9.30am until around 1.30pm.
Emergency access will still be available, while pedestrians will be unaffected by the closures.
In a letter to the Herald & Post Joanne Stuckey slammed the closures, which will leave her unable to take her 74-year-old father living on Winton Close to a hospital appointment.
She wrote: “Having looked closely at all the road closures and the route I am utterly amazed and astounded at the complete shut down of all roads leading in and out of Bushmead; there is physically no way of driving from any of the access/feeder roads.
“How can a whole community be cut off?!
“It is truly a stupid decision and extremely unwise.
She added: “This whole thing is completely ridiculous.
“Thousands of people will be forced to stay at home; they will be trapped and unable to carry out their necessary commitments. What are those who work supposed to do?”
Luton Lib Dem leader David Franks added his frustration at the planned closures.
Cllr Franks said: “Thousands of households in the Bushmead area are once again to be held prisoner in their homes, unable to visit or be visited, unable to go to work or get home from work.
“Last year’s half marathon brought the town to a standstill.
“Even the annual carnival, which attracts thousands more people, doesn’t cause this much aggravation for residents.”
Linsey Frostick, chair of Love Luton, said that the restrictions would be closely managed.
She said: “Runners have a maximum of three hours to complete the event, and the road closures will be lifted by an experienced convoy of marshalls following immediately behind the race.
““Having a traffic-free and safe course for runners allows the town to develop a prestigious event which can showcase Luton in a positive light.
“We do appreciate that shutting the roads impacts on motorists.
“We thank everyone for their understanding, apologise for any inconvenience caused, and hope that residents come out and support runners as they go past.”