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Concern at green light for six months of Cambridge towpath closures

Anger has erupted after permission was granted for six months of closures on one of Cambridge’s busiest active travel routes.

The Halingway towpath, which runs from Clayhithe to Chesterton, is used by hundreds of people each day travelling to school, work and for leisure.

The Hal
The Hal

However, the green light has been given for any number of closures anytime between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, from November 1 to March 31, 2024.

The closure has been put in place to allow the Conservators of the River Cam to prune, and in some cases fell, “dangerous trees” following a recent tree survey.

The Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) will be suspended for official rowing events.

Cycling campaigners Camcycle say they are “astounded” that permission was granted for the closures.

They are calling on the conservators to reconsider what they refer to as an “excessive traffic regulation order”.

Anna Williams, Camcycle’s communication officer, told the Cambridge Independent: “Hundreds of people use the Halingway towpath every day, travelling for leisure reasons such as dog-walking or jogging and for essential journeys to school, work, the shops and other destinations.

“It’s one of the city’s busiest active travel routes and part of route 11 of the National Cycle Network. Camcycle is astounded that the county council have awarded the Conservators of the River Cam a temporary traffic order allowing a six-month closure for tree pruning, with no details on the length or timing of the specific closures.

“Many people caught out by the closures will face lengthy diversions on foot or by cycle, causing them serious disruptions to their journeys.”

The Conservators of the River Cam say the works are necessary and will ensure the safety of all users of the path.

A statement from the group said: “The conservancy appreciates this may cause some temporary inconvenience, however these works are necessary and have been planned to ensure the safety of those who use the Halingway and the staff carrying out the works.”

Camcycle is calling for any closures to be properly advertised on-site and online with clearly signed diversions for people walking, wheeling and cycling.

Ms Williams added: “Any closures in this location should be carefully planned to be as short as possible, avoiding unnecessary disruption. Clear, weatherproof signage should be used for closures and diversions with safe and suitable barriers around the closure points.

“While we understand that tree works are sometimes necessary, we urge the conservators to reassess the excessive length of this closure and work closely with stakeholders, including Sustrans (custodians of the National Cycle Network) on any plans requiring the closure of such an important route.”

Camcycle also say that neither the conservators or the county council have informed them – or Sustrans – of the diversion route.

Cllr Alex Beckett, chair of the highways and transport committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We’re aware of the concerns regarding Halingway towpath and our highways team is working with the Cam Conservators as the landowner.

“The TTRO has been made for the maximum period of six months, but the works are being carried out during the day only and should take 8-12 weeks. The six-month period is used to allow flexibility for inclement weather, which we’ve recently seen with the storm, as the work involves dealing with trees.

“We are working with the Cam Conservators to get a more detailed programme, we’ve advised them about proper signage, ie barriers and footpath closed signs which need to be placed at ‘decision points’ along the route to ensure cyclists and pedestrians can divert. We’ve also suggested a meeting between us, Camcycle and the Cam Conservators to help go through some of the concerns.”

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