Barnsley Council has been engulfed in a storm of criticism over its decision to press ahead with a one way system alongside the Dodworth Road crossroads, which will put a carriageway around the perimeter of Penny Pie Park, alongside the junction, leaving much of the remaining space as an ‘island’ accessible via crossing points.
The council has argued there is no alternative – without removing homes and gardens – to reduce traffic congestion between the M1 and the town centre.
The authority worked through more than 30 options before deciding on the adopted scheme and that has now passed all the planning and legal hurdles necessary for the work to commence.
Those decisions have been fought by the Save Penny Pie Park Group and after the last legal formality, switching the land involved from parks to highway use, they announced the intention to challenge the way the council had acted through a Judicial Review.
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However, following legal advice they have now dropped the idea on the grounds they would have to find £15,000 to press ahead with the action with a need for another £50,000 later.
The fear of the impact on individuals behind the court action if they lost the case, and council costs were awarded against them, was also a driving factor in the decision, they said.
Instead, they have said: “The only way left for us to hold Barnsley Council to account for their actions is at the ballot box.”
The group say they will now monitor the success of the development in meeting the council’s objectives, which include reduced journey times on that stretch of road, avoiding queues on the M1 at junction 37 and reducing air pollution.
They are also encouraging residents to claim for the reduction in value to their properties caused by the construction of the ring-road.
Group spokeswoman Lyndsey Darren said: “We have raised well over £2,000 to support the Judicial Review. The voters made their feelings clear at the local elections in May by voting in campaigner Peter Fielding in favour of the sitting Labour councillor.
“We will continue to fight this scheme until there is no chance of saving our park. We will not be able to go ahead with the judicial review so all money will be returned to the donors as soon as possible.
“As well as continuing our fight to save the park, we will encourage residents to prepare to claim compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1973 for the loss of value to their properties caused by the gyratory and once its construction is inevitable we will fight to make the best use of any green space left.”