Summer gridlock fears for Cleckheaton

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Traders in Cleckheaton fear a traffic overload when one of the main roads into the town centre closes for 12 weeks.

Northern Gas Networks says work will begin on Monday June 10 on extensive gas works in Westgate and last until Monday September 2.

The stretch of closed road will run from its junction with Northgate and Market Street in the east and the junction with Hightown Road in the west – a stretch of more than 200 metres.

Crown Street will also be closed off.

Traffic problems have grown in Cleckheaton since the closure of rat-runs Pyenot Hall Lane and Neville Street last year, and motorists have complained of queues of more than a mile on Bradford Road at peak times.

The closure of Westgate is now expected to put extra strain on the town’s road system.

Spenborough Chamber of Trade chairman Viv Laycock said: “Traffic is bad coming into Cleckheaton already, and this could make things worse.

“If we have to have these new pipes, then there is nothing we can do about it – but I think it’s important that everyone knows that Cleckheaton is still open for business this summer.”

Irene Kelly, who runs the Crown Cafe which is at one end of the section of closed road, said: “We rely on a lot of passing trade, and with traffic only able to come from one side, this will affect us.”

Tesco in Northgate uses Crown Street for deliveries, and a spokesman for the company said it would be using alternative routes.

Cleckheaton Fire Station is in Hightown Road, and a spokeswoman from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said: “Obviously this is quite a long stretch of road and it’s on the doorstep of the fire station.

“A plan is being formulated at the moment about how we are going to minimise the inconvenience to firefighters.”

Bus services affected by the work will include 220, 225, 253, 254 and X25. A spokeswoman for transport authority Metro said that the services would still run, but exact diversions had not yet been decided.

Northern Gas Networks insists the work needs to take place, as the pipes are ageing and they need to make sure gas reaches customers safely.

Stuie Armin, customer operations area manager for Northern Gas Networks added: “We are working hard to minimise disruption and we have carefully planned our work so the road closure coincides with the main school holidays when the traffic is less heavy. We know that this is a busy area of Cleckheaton and apologise in advance for any disruption our essential work might cause.”

Northern Gas Networks will hold a drop-in session to answer questions on Monday in the town hall, Cleckheaton, from 5pm-7pm.