TENACIOUS campaigners have made a New Year’s resolution — to continue the fight against the controversial £13 million inner bypass for Hucknall.
A shock announcement was made at the end of November that the road was back on track after it had been seemingly mothballed amid an avalanche of spending cuts by the coalition government.
It will now go ahead as part of a regeneration of Hucknall town centre, complete with part-pedestrianisation of High Street.
However nearby residents have vowed to do all they can to stop the new road.
One protester, former police officer John Hardy (67), stressed: “We are all in favour of the town centre being improved. But this road is not the answer. This is all being dictated by people who do not live here.”
The inner bypass project was revived during the Autumn Statement in the House Of Commons last month by the Conservative Chancellor, George Osborne.
Mr Osborne revealed that Whitehall would stump up £8.5 million and honour most of the £10 million promised by the previous Labour government for the scheme.
Steps will now be taken towards starting work on the road, which will link Annesley Road with Station Road. The project is aimed at easing congestion in the town centre.
However opponents at the helm of a long-running campaign against the inner bypass have reacted with disbelief and say the scheme is akin to “throwing the money away”.
Mr Hardy and well-known local entertainer Bill Ward (66) are leading members of a protest group based on the Thoresby Dale estate, close to the bypass route, and have been fighting against the road for more than 15 years. They insist the battle isn’t over.
“We are going to call a public meeting of residents in the New Year to take advice on our next move,” said Mr Hardy. “We are not fighting for ourselves and we are not NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard). We are fighting for the residents.”
Mr Ward said: “It feels like we are back to square one. This money could be spent on much more worthwhile projects, such as schools and resurfacing roads.”
In a joint statement handed to the Dispatch, they added: “What was a Labour folly of spending money on this road has been passed by a panicking George Osborne to try and help the labour market.”
The go-ahead by the government for the bypass is part of a package of measures it believes are crucial to reviving the local and national economy after the recession
It is understood that it could take more than two years for work to start on the road and it is likely to be debated at a public inquiry because of its size, cost and impact on Hucknall.
The road has been in the pipeline for more than 70 years. It would run parallel with High Street, with pedestrianisation from the South Street/Baker Street junction to where High Street meets Watnall Road.
Campaigners have also slammed as indadequate consultation projects to gauge local opinion about the road.
One attracted just 300 responses, while another was a washout after a planned consultation bus broke down en route to Market Place.
Mr Ward has issued a warning that the road would have a devastating impact on town-centre businesses.
He said: “We will lose shops. They will shut down because even more people will simply be funnelled down to Tesco by the new road.
Mr Hardy points to a study document entitled ‘Hucknall: Town Centre Masterplan’, which has been put together by the Manchester-based firm Urbanism Environment and Design (URBED).
In one section, it explains that a scheme, including the inner bypass, would “on the one hand, take traffic off the High Street allowing for environmental improvements and pedestrianisation to take place, potentially giving the street a new lease of life”. But it adds the warning that “on the other hand, the new road could allow traffic to bypass High Street and direct it straight to the Tesco store, thereby depriving High Street of passing trade”.