Tourist HGVs on sat-navved shortcuts through our villages and leafy lanes could be re-routed at zero cost to Lincolnshire County Council.
Sutton St James residents have fought a long running campaign to stop HGV short-cuts because their homes are shaking and walls are cracking.
Lincolnshire County Council has so far refused to follow the lead set by Leicestershire County Council, which spent £2.5million over seven years re-routing lorries in the 90s.
It’s the same amount Lincolnshire County Council earmarked for the discredited and now abandoned plan to create three lanes on the A17 at Gedney.
Crucially, Leicestershire clawed back every penny of the £2.5million outlay because the work was done on a “spend to save” basis.
Cash was spent from its roads maintenance budget but the re-routing brought matched savings because the authority wasn’t repairing roads previously left crumbling by HGVs.
Ian Vears, Leicestershire’s interim assistant director of highways and transport, was the senior technician who brought in most of the lorry routes and says it involved creating weight restrictions and reclassifying some A and B roads as C roads.
Mr Vears says roads can be reclassified when there is a suitable alternative route, even if the alternative is 10-15 miles longer, and haulage companies were content as there was no real difference in fuel costs because they weren’t gear changing or stopping and starting at so many junctions.
He said hauliers based in a weight restriction area were largely unaffected, because they could still go to and from their business, but they weren’t allowed to drive from one side of the restriction to the other.
More than 100 schemes were introduced.
Mr Vears said: “It’s one of the reasons why Leicestershire has the best county roads in the country.”
He says communities themselves policed the system, phoning companies to say one of their lorries had been seen at a particular spot, and that stopped them from doing it again.
South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes said: “Given the experience in Leicestershire and the ongoing concerns in villages like Sutton St James, I really think this is something Lincolnshire should look at.
“I am more than happy to take this up with Richard Davies (the county council’s executive member for highways) and make absolutely clear that this has been done elsewhere and it ought to be done in Lincolnshire.”
Coun Davies told us: “We are aware of the issues in Sutton St James and have investigated in the past. What we found was that the majority of HGV traffic was generated locally and so would be exempt from any weight restriction that might be introduced. That means that, even if we did have the millions of pounds required for a re-routing exercise, there would likely be little benefit to the village.
“We are currently looking more generally at the movement of HGVs through the county, and will speak to our colleagues in Leicestershire about their experiences. We are certainly open to exploring ideas that could improve life for both motorists and our communities.”
Sutton St James Parish Council and a newly formed action group support the village’s own hauliers but want tourist HGVs on proper lorry routes,
Parish council chairman Bill Harrison said: “We’ve always said we need as many HGVs on the major routes as possible.
“What was the point of building the new A16 if Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) are not going to route HGVs on it?
“We know heavy traffic from Peterborough to Long Sutton/Sutton Bridge and traffic from Spalding to Wisbech use the route through the village as a short cut.
“LCC have always resisted the request to route these vehicles via the A roads.
“We know the village has to have lorries, it’s part on the local economy, but there is no need for the heavy through traffic.”
A spokesman for the village campaign group said: “We do think this is a very far sighted policy by Leicestershire County Council that could change the lives of villagers countrywide if rolled out nationally at no extra expense.”
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