Luton Council's scrutiny board refuses to give thumbs up for Vauxhall Way transformation plans

Luton Borough Council's oversight and scrutiny board has refused to recommend plans to transform Vauxhall Way in their current form.

Friday, 3rd January 2020, 1:40 pm
Updated Saturday, 4th January 2020, 5:59 pm

The casting vote of the committee chairman has heaped pressure on Luton Borough Council’s executive over its controversial road improvements in the east of the town

The £4m package of measures includes the £3.2m dualling of Vauxhall Way, while a 30mph speed limit and average speed cameras are also being considered.

The project was due to start in August, but was put on hold after some initial preparation work.

Vauxhall Way

Residents complained they had not been consulted about the scheme, which will include traffic lights at all the junctions along Vauxhall Way instead of roundabouts.

The local authority’s overview and scrutiny board were considering the first phase of the development, the road’s junction with Hitchin Road and Stopsley Way, on Thursday, December 19.

The council’s senior traffic signals engineer Kieran Franzen said: “The scheme plans to reduce congestion in the area .

“This will help open up a number of strategic sites such as Butterfield Park, Century Park and London Luton Airport.

“By reducing queuing and improving journey times that will also lower CO2 emissions.

“We are trying to carry out this work with minimum risk and disruption to the airport, local businesses and the surrounding community.”

Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks described it as “a half baked scheme where you haven’t sorted out some of the issues which are going to arise”.

He said: “None of the plans, none of the presentations, none of the conversations that I’ve been involved in have mentioned any bus lanes.

“You need dual carriageway for ordinary traffic, then you’re effectively going to reduce it to single carriageway width by putting in bus lanes later.

“You haven’t thought this through. You haven’t offered any statistics to back the road accident statement up.”

Mr Franzen replied: “We have got the data. There have been 26 traffic accidents along Vauxhall Way in the last three years.

Councillor Franks proposed a resolution that the board is unable to recommend approval of the scheme in its current form to executive for the reasons he gave in a statement.

These included a lack of a landscape strategy, no solution to the Birchen Grove junction, no road accident figures for the area, and the claim Vauxhall Way motorists “mainly comprise passengers travelling to the airport”.

Labour South councillor David Agbley argued: “All the questions have been answered. This should be rejected.”

Liberal Democrat Crawley councillor Terry Keens: “I have been told 6,000 letters went out about this. I have not yet met anyone who’s actually had one.

“So if you’re telling me 6,000 letters have been sent to the post office to send out someone somewhere is pulling a fast one and I suggest you look at this very seriously.”

Councillors voted six in favour and six against, with the casting vote of Liberal Democrat Sundon councillor Anna Pedersen supporting councillor Franks’ proposal.

The Labour led executive committee is due to meet on January 13th when it is likely to reconsider the issue.