THE Conservative Group at East Lothian Council has put forward a motion to see the proposed closure of Johnnie Cope’s Road scrapped.

The road connects Prestonpans and Tranent, crossing the A1, and provides a link for residents between the towns.

Last year, East Lothian Council revitalised a 1986 plan to close the road to most traffic to create an active travel route, limiting vehicular access to residents and emergency services.

A five-week public consultation period has now ended and the council is currently analysing responses before making its final decision.

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The proposed closure has been strongly opposed by residents and groups such as Prestonpans Community Council, with local Labour members also calling for a rethink.

Lachlan Bruce, Conservative Group leader and councillor for Preston Seton Gosford, recently sent out surveys to homes in the area and received 200 responses, of which 90 per cent criticised the proposal.

Commenting on the situation, Mr Bruce said: “Having heard from local residents from across Prestonpans, it is very clear that the vast majority of residents are opposed to the closure of Johnnie Cope’s Road between Prestonpans and Tranent.

“I think what needs to happen before we move any further down the way towards closing Johnnie Cope’s Road to all forms of traffic is that a proper assessment of the alternatives has to be considered, such as lights on the bridge or widening the bridge.

“And since the main issue with the road seems to be the bridge, I think it is important and only right that we seek to engage with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland – they are the owners of the bridge – to find out what they can do to support us keeping Johnnie Cope’s Road open.”

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The motion, due to be discussed at the full council meeting on Tuesday, is being supported by South Scotland MSP Craig Hoy, a party colleague.

He said: “Johnnie Cope’s Road is a vital link for residents in both Tranent and Prestonpans.

“The road takes traffic away from Bankton Junction and Strawberry Corner roundabout, and it is a convenient link for commuters looking to use Prestonpans Railway Station and travel between the towns, cutting down car emissions and congestion at peak times.

“I will be seeking to engage with the Scottish Government in Parliament on this matter as I believe they should play a part in coming up with a solution that works for all users.”

'Safety our top priority'

An East Lothian Council spokesperson previously stated: “Throughout this process, our position regarding the bridge has been consistent.

“The road was originally to have been closed as a through route when the A1 Tranent bypass opened in 1986, but kept open for farm access, walkers, cyclists and equine.

“To this end, a bridge was provided where it crosses the A1 and ‘no through road except cycles’ signs were sited at both the Tranent and Prestonpans ends and a gate installed.

“The single-lane bridge, which is the responsibility of Transport Scotland, was designed as an accommodation bridge and its intended use was for occasional farm access, large stock movements between fields, equine and pedestrian use. The road was never intended to take the volume and type of traffic currently using it and there is very limited scope to re-engineer the road.

“Safety is of course our top priority and this proposal was brought forward because the Johnnie Cope’s Road lends itself to a sustainable access route for walkers, cyclists and equine with their safety assured.

“The proposal allows for emergency services access, farmer access and access for any residents whilst aligning with national and local policy on active travel.

“No decision of the council or a committee has been taken at this time.

“Officers are currently reviewing the responses received.”