Rail footbridge plan announced as council works to reduce impact of gyratory road scheme

A new pedestrian bridge could be installed across a railway line to open up additional green spaces for those affected by the construction of a new ring road around an urban park in Barnsley.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton has announced the authority is committed to putting a bridge across the Penistone to Barnsley railway line Pogmoor, which would link Penny Pie Park – where the new one way system is to be installed – with Pogmoor ‘rec’ and Sugden’s recreation ground, forming a new, linked combination of green space and parkland in the district.The project would rely on co-operation from Network Rail, which is responsible for developments around the railway, but he told a meeting of Barnsley Council: “I will commit this council to putting a bridge across this railway line and, if necessary, we will pay for it.”Dodworth Coun Neil Wright asked the council to back proposals to get a footbridge across the railway after the ring-road scheme won council approval and was granted planning permission, with Sir Steve putting the authority’s weight behind the idea, if Network Rail is open to the suggestion.Although much of Penny Pie Park, alongside the Dodworth Road crossroads at Pogmoor, will remain after the new road is installed, much of the site will be surrounded by a three lane one way system, leaving campaigners concerned it will not be suitable for use as a park.Installing a bridge would allow park users easy and safe access to green spaces which currently abut the park, but are separated by the railway line.The announcement came in a stormy council meeting where a motion to scrap the gyratory and search for a new answer to controlling traffic in the area was rejected by members of the council, 24 hours after an earlier attempt to get a decision on the project, made by the council’s ruling Cabinet, overturned.Coun Dave Greenhalgh apologised to the meeting after making an insulting comment about another councillor during the discussion and Coun Peter Fielding, who proposed the motion, said the scheme appeared “like a 1970s solution” to traffic problems.Dodworth Coun Phillip Birkinshaw said he supported the council scheme “with a heavy heart”.“The perfect solution would be to get millions from the Government and put a ring road around the town. That isn’t going to happen,” he said.During debates on the project Coun Peter Fielding, who was elected as a Lib Dem councillor in the May elections after campaigning against the gyratory, had suggested council surveys on park usage had been misleading and said figures used from council investigations could suggest overall visitor numbers of 400,000 a year.Sir Steve said that figure would put Penny Pie Park among the nation’s top visitor attractions, outstripping Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall and the Scottish National Portrait gallery.Barnsley Council has examined 36 separate proposals for traffic changes to reduce a bottleneck at the crossroads, with the gyratory regarded as the most effective option.Objectors argue it will increase noise, pollution and adversely affect a green space used by the community.

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