Ken Poole discusses protest against Road 9 [Text only]

'Well Road 9 was part of the Corporation's, that's the Stevenage Development Corporation...'

Stevenage Museum

Well Road 9 was part of the Corporation’s, that’s the Stevenage Development Corporation plan which came out in 1966, which included a dual carriage road through the Stevenage Valley, which is now the Stevenage Valley Park from the football ground to Fairlands Way in Chells.

I forget who approached me but I certainly was approached by somebody who was showing a similar sort of concern. I agreed with what they were trying to do and I became secretary at that time, that was 1966.

Well first of all it held monthly meetings, and got in touch with various organisations. We wrote to national newspapers, local newspapers, and we held three public meetings collected 12,000 signatures, a technical report running to 50 foolscap pages. Many letters to the press and we referred the case to the ombudsman.

Well the crucial moment came when the Highways Committee had to consider whether to give the grant or not towards the cost of the road. Previous to that we had canvassed every member of the committee, we realised that this was a crucial time and this of course meant going to all parts of the county, to see people. When the Highways Committee eventually met they decided to postpone a decision – that was on the first occasion. On the second occasion they met they decided that they couldn’t agree to the 25 % of the cost and told the Development Corporation to this effect.

Yes, the Corporation could of course find money out of its own funds but that would be going against government policy and the Ministry of Transport advised them against it, so they were in rather a cleft stick. They needed the grant from the County Council, a grant incidentally which all local authorities in areas where new towns were being built, they had a statutory requirement that this should be considered. In most cases it went through rather than not. But on in this particular instance because of the objections of the local authority and the Stevenage Valley Association, they decided that they couldn’t do what the Corporation requested.
So that left the Corporation in a difficult position and I think probably what happened, and I don’t know for certain but I think probably, they just put it to one side for some time. But eventually this leaked out and the local papers made much of the fact that they hadn’t got the grant through but at no time did the Development Corporation ever suggest that they were wrong. They felt that the road was necessary in order to relieve…relieve traffic on adjoining roads and the business ended rather indeterminately because the Corporation never actually said that they had decided not to build the road. They were still saying that the road was necessary right up to the point where the Corporation was disbanded and taken over by the New Towns Commission.

The corporation spent quarter of a million pound on putting in grade separation on Broadhall Way so that if you were driving up Broadhall Way you could choose either to go under the present roundabout and emerge on the other side or take the same road and go into the, into the Valley. This of course would have been the start of Road 9. As it is at the moment there is a little bit of Road 9, that’s been started, you can see you know where it might have been. But that development I’m afraid to say is now called ‘Evelyn’s Folly.’, Evelyn Dennington being the Chairman of the Development Corporation. She was a dear lady and, it’s a shame really that her name has been attached to a folly, but, anyone who travels down Broad Hall Way must wonder why the road in the centre isn’t going anywhere.

This page was added on 16/04/2018.

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