A158 - Seize the day

The subject of traffic on the A158, and in particular the traffic delays in both Horncastle and Wragby, is in the news.

Since I wrote to you (Richard Wills, executive director for environment and economy at Lincolnshire County Council) on August 10, I am pleased to say that in addition to the excellent coverage in the local press, the topic has gained attention in a wider sphere.

On September 15 our Member of Parliament, Victoria Atkins, asked a question in The House concerning the A158 in Horncastle. The Minister for Transport, John Hayes, guaranteed that he would chair a meeting with Victoria and his department to discuss the issue. The subject of the traffic delays has also been subject of an article on BBC Radio Lincs and has featured on the front page of the Lincolnshire Echo. All of this makes one believe that the time has come for action to be taken.

I understand that there has been dialogue between Lincolnshire County Council highways department and East Lindsey District Council on the subject. It was reported that they had agreed on a ‘form of words’ to be included in the ELDC Local Plan. ELDC talks about five years to ‘gather evidence’; and it further adds that the county council should include the need for a Horncastle bypass within the county-wide Transport Plan. This all sounds like delaying tactics to throw the unwary off the scent.

In the meantime, I understand that Mr Walsh, LCC’s flood risk and development manager, has stated that 2,000 homes should be built in Horncastle to fund the proposed bypass. May I suggest that his argument is flawed for the following reasons:

1 There is no way under current legislation that money from the building of houses could be used to fund a road improvement.

2 Even if the funding were possible it would take years.

At present the number of new homes being built and bought is 25 per year. Within the present plans for growth of business and jobs within Horncastle there is no reason to believe this number will increase in the near future. That would mean that it would take over 100 years for money from new builds to fund the bypass.

3 The main reason for the increase in traffic on the A158 over the past 10 years has been due to transit traffic, not domestic traffic. This transit traffic is divided into two: traffic travelling to and from the coast and heavy goods traffic travelling to and from Immingham Docks and surrounding area. The increase in traffic generated by the additional housing in the town is minimal by comparison.

The increase in holiday /day trip traffic is encouraged by both ELDC and the Government to improve the viability of the coastal towns.

While this is a laudable aim they, both ELDC and the Government, must be prepared to provide the infrastructure required to support the increase in traffic. Possibly the businesses at the coast that are profiting from the increase in trade should have a tax levied to pay for infrastructure improvements?

Due to the reasons laid out above it is totally unreasonable to suggest that extra housing should pay for a bypass. There is no requirement for such housing and as you are aware, the local planning authority is not about to ‘bring forward’ land for such a development.

It is LCC’s responsibility to liaise with the Government and the National Transport Authority. Since our MP has already engaged with the Minister for Transport, one may suggest that the process has already started. Now is the time to ‘strike while the iron is hot’.

I trust that this subject will be acted upon at the highest level within LCC.

Andrew Neal

West Street, Horncastle