New cycle path approved despite objections

A new cycle route linking West Bromwich town centre with Sandwell Valley has been backed by the council.

The move by Sandwell Council would see the link built through Europa Village in West Bromwich towards Sandwell Valley Country Park.

The segregated cycle route would start from West Bromwich town centre before joining Europa Avenue. The ‘middleway’ path through Europa Avenue towards Sandwell Valley would be widened and resurfaced as part of the work.

It forms one part of the work to build a new segregated cycle route along West Bromwich High Street – which will see a new segregated cycle path stretch three-quarters of a mile from Bull Street and along the High Street towards Roebuck Lane.

The final decision by the council comes three years after residents were first asked about the work. 

The decision also follows a 150-signature petition being handed to the council against the new cycle path and an investigation by the council over concerns the public consultation on the work was not carried out properly.

Despite the objections, the new route was signed off by Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for highways Cllr Danny Millard on February 26.

At the end of 2020, Sandwell Council asked the government if it could swap its plans for West Bromwich Town Hall, which was being used as Covid-19 centre at the time, to pour its efforts into building a new cycle lane through Europa Village.

The request was made as the work was being paid for using the £25m the borough was awarded as part of the government’s Towns Fund.

As a result of the proposed swap, the council started preparing the work in February 2021 while at the same time asking neighbours for their views.

The council said the money to carry out the work was “made available unexpectedly” but came with “very strict time conditions” which meant letters explaining the work were only sent to homes next to the proposed path. This would “hopefully allow work to start as quickly as possible,” the council said. 

Work to upgrade a cycle route from Beeches Road to Europa Avenue had already started but the ‘middleway’ section through the estate had not been touched. The plans for this route were again put to the public for them to have their say with letters sent to 350 addresses.

A total of 44 replies were received with the results showing 22 people in favour compared to 22 against.

Cllr Jill Taylor, who now chairs the council’s economy, skills, transport and environment scrutiny board, was Sandwell’s cabinet member for sustainable transport in 2021 when the work was being developed and when the plans were put out to consultation for a second time.

One of her first acts as the new chair of the scrutiny board last year was to agree to a group of councillors, which included herself, to investigate the complaint and determine whether the public consultation was carried out properly.

Councillors admitted that “better communications could have been made to keep residents updated” and the lack of clarity had left them confused – but insisted the consultation had been carried out properly.

After making the decision, Cllr Danny Millard, cabinet member for highways, said: “The benefits from people making more trips by walking and cycling are well known. The more active people are, the more healthy they’ll be. But walking or cycling instead of using the car is also good for the environment, helps meet our climate change targets, and can help reduce congestion.

“Many of our residents don’t have access to a car. But they are discouraged from cycling by the lack of safe facilities. The council is committed to providing a comprehensive network of safe, segregated cycle routes so that cycling can be a genuine option, especially for short journeys.”


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