Chesterfield, like lots of towns across the country, has issues with traffic and congestion. Everyone knows that the Derby Road has huge problems with congestion and traffic, particularly at peak times or when the M1 is busy. The main road through Clay Cross and into Chesterfield from the south of the constituency is now massively busy, over-congested and a burden on people and businesses getting around their daily business in our area.
Of course none of this is new. When I was growing up in Chesterfield twenty years ago the Derby Road was busy and often difficult to get up and down. More recently, this has got even worse - estimates from the Department for Transport suggest traffic has grown by around ten percent in the last few years. A long time ago, there was talk of a spur off to the motorway or even a dual carriageway down from the Horns Bridge roundabout to try to improve the situation. None of these solutions have gotten very far to date.
Back when I was elected in 2017, I started the first effort in a decade to make some improvements on Derby Road - surveying residents, holding meetings, raising the matter in Parliament, bringing the Secretary of State to see the issue, convincing the County Council to do a full traffic study and a review of options. Half of the problem on Derby Road is that we don't have a clear set of agreed solutions which we think will improve the issue for the long-term - and part of the work in the last few years has been to start filling in the gaps.
With that initial work now concluded, in Autumn 2021, myself, the County Council and the District Council launched the Plan for Derby Road - the first proper framework seeking to reduce congestion in decades. The Plan itself is split into three parts:
- Short-term – some small-scale, immediate changes to the road: the County Council is making changes now, including the introduction of a control room to better manage the road and more real-time information signs for car drivers and public transport users;
- Medium-term – committing to at least one bigger change: The County Council, as Highways Authority, will start a community conversation on a more substantive change to the road (something like a change to how some traffic lights work or equivalent). The Council have committed to funding at least one intervention in the coming years;
- Long-term – deciding the big intervention we want: we will also work with the community on the big question: what is the big intervention to mitigate congestion for the long-term. Then, as your MP, I can start the long process down in Westminster of trying to find funds.
Taken together, we hope this demonstrates a long-term commitment to work with the community to actually tackle some of the congestion issues on Derby Road.
There is no magic bullet to solving Derby Road. What we have missed, however, in recent years is a proper conversation about how we can improve the situation - and this is something I'm determined to change. Nothing will be easy, and it is likely to require hard choices from the community, but if we want to try to improve the situation in the next ten years, then we need to start talking about it now - something I hope that the Plan for Derby Road will enable us to start doing properly in early 2022.