170 people in Temple Sowerby protest ‘GIVE US A BYPASS NOW’ DEMAND VILLAGERS

Date: Saturday 4th September 2004

ABOUT 170 protesters staged an hour-long demonstration in Temple Sowerby on Tuesday morning in a bid to get a definite start date for the village’s long awaited bypass.

ABOUT 170 protesters staged an hour-long demonstration in Temple Sowerby on Tuesday morning in a bid to get a definite start date for the village’s long awaited bypass.

Motorists were subjected to only short delays as both east and westbound traffic was brought to a halt on four occasions by slow-moving tractors to allow villagers, both young and old, to walk safely across the A66. Once the vehicles were on the move again, wagon drivers, in particular, were keen to express their support by sounding their horns.

Frustrated that no building work has started on the £18.5 million scheme, which was recommended to go ahead by a Government-appointed inspector following a public inquiry last year, villagers were forced to pick up their placards once again for the protest which started at 9am. “Give us a bypass now,” they chanted.

On 28th April, 1984, the Herald reported that between 60 and 70 residents, including children and pensioners, turned out on Easter Monday to cause three-minute traffic hold ups on the busy road in a bid to raise awareness about the need for a bypass. At that time they were protesting at the Ministry of Transport’s decision to scrap plans for a Temple Sowerby bypass in the autumn of the previous year. The bypass had been approved in 1974.

Some 20 years later, it must have been deja vu for the many residents who were sporting red sashes to signify they had turned out for the 1984 protest.

Mrs. Margaret McGenn, who is married to Philip, chairman of the parish council, was holding a placard which said: “I was here in 1984. Don’t want to do this any more.”

Mrs. McGenn said: “Our son, Chris, was seven months old then, now he has just turned 21 and we are still waiting for our bypass. We have three children and it has been a nightmare trying to get back and forth across the road to the doctors’ surgery and the village shop.

“I hope there is going to be a bypass by the time we have grandchildren.”

Also among the protesters were Megan Key and Becky Starr, who are both aged 17, and 19-year-old Hannah Starr, who were all at Temple Sowerby Primary School and have been friends ever since. They were holding a very large banner which made a plea to Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport, saying: “Darling … it’s been too long”.

Hannah, who is now at university, said: “At primary school we were always campaigning for the bypass and making posters so we thought we would carry on the fight.”

IMPRESSIVE TURN-OUT

Megan said Temple Sowerby would be a much nicer village for people to come to if there was not the danger caused by the A66 going through it. Becky added that it was an impressive turn-out which showed that a lot of people were dedicated to the cause.

Retired farmer John Dodd, aged 79, who has been in the village for 42 years, said a bypass would create an enormous improvement in terms of safety. He has twice written to David Maclean, MP for Penrith and the Border, about the need for a new road to be built.

“Last week I was waiting to get across and I counted 183 vehicles before I could get over. I was there for about quarter of an hour,” said Mr. Dodd, who had been going to see his son, John Steadman Dodd, who farms at the end of the village.

Ullswater Community College pupils Verity Ellis and Lottie Brzozowski, who are both aged 13 and live in the village, made their point by engraving the words “bypass wanted” on their foreheads.

The Eden councillor for the area, Henry Sawrey Cookson, said people were thoroughly frustrated and their patience had expired. Until the bypass was completed the people of Temple Sowerby would have no quality of life whatsoever.

Shap county councillor Roger Bird, who went to school in the village, also attended the demonstration along with Gary Strong, who is the county councillor for the area. Mr. Bird said: “The community has been waiting for this bypass for a very long time. The amount of people who have turned out shows the strength of feeling behind it.”

Dr. Gavin Young, spokesman for the village action group, said there was nearly double the number of people they thought would turn out, which, he said, was “tremendous”. He added there was almost total support in the village for the bypass.

Dr. Young was accompanied across the road during the protest by his eldest son, James, who is now 24. When he was 13, James was hit by a lorry travelling at about 40mph through the village as he crossed the road on his bicycle and spent 10 months in hospital.

He was left profoundly deaf, which has since been eased by a cochlea implant, partially paralysed down his left side and with a moderate speech impairment and some intellectual impairment.

Dr. Young said if they didn’t get a bypass this autumn the protesters would be back out in the spring, but it was hoped that the demonstration would persuade Alistair Darling to release the funds which were needed to get the work on the bypass started.

Temple Sowerby parish councillors were told earlier this year that the bypass had been put back to late 2004 or early 2005 because the money was not yet available, but villagers want a definite start date, not empty promises.

Inspector Tom Hurst, of Cumbria police, who was on the scene with Sergeant Grant Warwick, said each stoppage lasted only two minutes, but traffic became backed up on both sides of the village in that time.

“It is an emotive local issue and residents were very keen for the demonstration to take place. Although the police don’t advocate this kind of demonstration we can offer advice on road safety issues and how to keep disruption to a minimum,” he said.