Action has to be taken now to tackle growing traffic congestion in Harborough, warns councillor

'Time is running out - we need to think outside the box," he said

Friday, 6th August 2021, 4:22 pm
Cllr Phil Knowles warned that the problem is getting worse as thousands more people move into the town and surrounding area.

Action has to be taken now to tackle growing traffic congestion in Market Harborough, a leading councillor is warning.

Cllr Phil Knowles warned that the problem is getting worse as thousands more people move into the town and surrounding area.

And he’s now calling on both Leicestershire County Council and Harborough District Council to “think out of the box” and work together to defuse the fast-escalating “crisis”.

“Time is running out. We have to confront traffic congestion in and around Market Harborough before it’s too late,” insisted Cllr Knowles, who leads Harborough council’s Liberal Democrat group.

“We heard talk of £15 million being poured into making our town’s roads safer and clearer a few years ago now.

“But absolutely nothing has come of it.

“We need to think outside the box.

“We have to come up with radical new ways of stopping Market Harborough becoming choked up with cars, vans, buses and lorries now.

“As Liberal Democrats we are only too happy to work with everyone on this.

“This isn’t a one-party problem – it affects each and every one of us.

“We’ve heard talk of improving and upgrading roads such as Welland Park Road, Kettering Road, St Mary’s Road and our town centre for years.

“But nothing has come of it,” said Cllr Knowles.

“We’ve got to look at the pots of money available nationally that we can access.

“And this cash doesn’t have to be just assigned to highways or transport.

“Traffic congestion has a massive impact on air quality, the environment and people’s health as well.

“It’s a truly multi-dimensional challenge.

“And dirty air isn’t just breathed in by Liberal Democrats or Conservatives.

“The air is breathed in by all of us no matter who we support and it belongs to all of us.

“So we all have to unite to work out how best we can start to reverse this very worrying trend.”

The veteran Liberal Democrat is also urging the county council to urgently carry out a new study to establish how much traffic is travelling in and out of Market Harborough every day.

“I suspect that the data they’re working on now is several years old and well out of date.

“We also have to closely scrutinise every new scheme to build more new homes in the town as it appears to grow week in week out,” said Cllr Knowles.

“We have a duty of care to the people who already live here and to the people moving in.

“We have no planet B.

“This planet we call earth is the only one we’ve got – and we’ve got to start looking after it so much better,” said Cllr Knowles.

The county council insists it is constantly striving to secure Government cash to bankroll urgently improving under-pressure roads in Market Harborough.

“Our initial expression of interest in the Pinch Point Fund didn’t progress to the development of a business case so we weren’t able to support highways improvements in Market Harborough through this particular funding stream,” said the authority.

“As we do all the time, we’ll now consider other appropriate Government funding streams to bid for the Harborough improvements as they arise.”

The Pinch Point Fund was a “pot of funding that the Government didn’t progress as its own funding pot and instead decided to included it as part of their levelling up and community fund,” said the county council.

“Initially, when we bid, it was a fund for local authorities to bid for schemes to help address congestion pinch points and to reduce congestion on local roads.

“The fund was £150 million in total - and at the time we bid for £5 million.

“The work we did to support the pitch point funding bid will be very useful when we come to bid for future Government funding.

“And there will also be the opportunity for us to use additional developer funding to support congestion-easing measures in Market Harborough.”