Billing Road and Abington Schemes

A timeline of missed opportunities and lack of ambition from 2020-2023.

July 2020: the beginnings

The Department of Transport publishes Gear Change. A Bold vision for cycling and walking. It’s the biggest change in transport policy in decades, and is widely welcomed by all parties.

It’s more than just a great document – there’s funding too, which councils are invited to apply for.

July 2020: survey

Northants completes a Commonplace survey to find out what changes are needed to Northampton’s streets to encourage walking and cycling.

Hundreds of comments are collected.

September 2020: a plan

Northants produces a Local Cycling and Walking Plan (it’s been in the works since 2017) in order to apply for government funding.

As a result of Commonplace comments, the first draft of the plan is amended to include the Billing Road Corridor.

Document from link contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

September 2020: the Billing Rd Corridor

Northants applies for funding for the Billing Road Corridor, to provide a safe active travel route into the town centre.

It’s a good scheme – the bid is successful and the council receives £1.3m.

Document from link and the image contain public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0

Before the public consultation starts, word gets out that the scheme includes making a section of Billing Road one-way. There’s a press campaign against it and a petition is signed by 1800 people (less than 1% of Northampton’s population).

October 2020: consultation is abandoned

The DfT warns councils about noisy campaigns against active travel schemes; they point out that most schemes turn out to be popular when a proper consultation has taken place.

But Northants immediately backs down and stops the consultation, so the other 99% don’t get a say.

2020-2023: 2+ years of inaction

For the next two years, the council says it is drawing up alternative plans for Billing Road. It’s on the website, and also in its regular reports to the Department for Transport.

Pictured here is what the West Northants website was still saying on 28 January, 2023.

March 2021: the unpublished survey

A council-commissioned independent survey reveals that most Northampton residents think that more priority should be given to walking and cycling.

As of January 2023, to our knowledge the survey is still unpublished (except by us) and not even shown to councillors.

February 2023: Billing Rd scheme is dropped

The council launches a consultation on the Abington Active Travel Scheme, which replaces the Billing Rd scheme.

The scheme includes nothing about Billing Road. There’s no route to the town centre, which was the purpose of the original bid.

See the details.

Cars are the main source of CO2 emissions and air pollution. West Northants Council has declared a climate emergency and knows about our toxic air.

Most people in Northampton want more priority for walking and cycling.

All we are asking for is the safe active travel route into the town centre that taxpayers have paid for, so that more people can leave the car at home.