Transport Scotland has disputed one of East Lothian Council’s main claims in favour of the closure of Johnnie Cope’s Road.

The road, which crosses the A1 and connects Prestonpans and Tranent, faces closure after council officials revived a plan from 1986 to see it shut to all motorised traffic bar residents and emergency vehicles.

The proposal has caused uproar in the local community, as many view it as a vital route between the towns.

Prestonpans Community Council has led the charge in opposing its closure, criticising the local authority’s claim that the road’s bridge over the A1 was not safe.

In a letter responding to Prestonpans Community Council’s concerns, Transport Scotland indicated that the bridge was “designated for full HA loading of 44 tons” and had no issues regarding the volume of traffic using it.

This contradicts previous council communication, which stated: “As a single-lane accommodation bridge, it’s not suitable, nor was it ever designed, to take the volume and type of traffic currently using it.”

Responding to Transport Scotland’s letter, DJ Johnston-Smith, Prestonpans Community Council’s chair, said: “In response to our follow-up email seeking further clarification on the position of Transport Scotland and the transport ministers with regards to Johnnie Cope’s Road, civil servants have been able to confirm two specific items of note related to the council’s proposals to close this vital road between Prestonpans and Tranent.

“The bridge over the A1 is perfectly safe and, unlike the local council officers, Transport Scotland appears to have no concerns whatsoever about the volume of traffic using it.

“The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges states that Type HA loading is ‘the normal design loading for Great Britain and adequately covers the effects of all permitted normal vehicles other than those used for abnormal indivisible loads’.”

In his original letter, Dr Johnston-Smith also queried what would happen if East Lothian Council chose to pursue the closure order under Section 152 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.

Transport Scotland confirmed in its reply that the Transport Secretary would step in if any objectors (who submit an objection after official publication of closure notice) do not subsequently withdraw their notes of objection.

If this were to happen, it would be likely that the closure would become a “costly” public enquiry.

Dr Johnston-Smith added: “That would inevitably mean a costly public inquiry on top of the money already spent on this process, money we believe could be better spent on introducing traffic lights on either side of the bridge, traffic calming measures and pedestrian pavements to enhance the safety of all users of this route.

“Like our local ward councillors, we now await with interest the publication of reports on Johnnie Cope’s Road usage and alternatives to closure.

“These are being created ahead of the June meeting of the full council by the local roads department that recommended closure back in 2020.”

However, East Lothian Council disputed that there was grounds for a public inquiry.

An East Lothian Council spokesperson added: “A full report regarding this matter, which will include details of the public consultation and other opinions submitted to East Lothian Council, will be on the agenda of the full council meeting to be held on June 27.”