HE has campaigned for it to remain closed – but Fareham council leader Sean Woodward was happy to drive down a controversial route even as protesters called for it to reopen.
Cllr Woodward took advantage of the junction of Yew Tree Drive and Botley Road being temporarily open to use it to head towards his nearby home in a silver Mercedes convertible.
Cllr Woodward was seen by about 30 campaigners who had gathered at the junction in Whiteley, which is usually blocked by bollards, to highlight the issue.
The route is normally open only to buses and emergency vehicles, but has been open to everyone for the past three weeks to allow extra access while National Grid works are carried out.
Cllr Woodward has been a staunch opponent of the road being permanently open, saying it could be used as a rat run.
He said: ‘When it is open for traffic reasons I find it most convenient to use as do many other residents.
‘Why wouldn’t I use it if it’s legal for everyone to use, rather than take the seven-mile round trip?
‘Arguably, I have more to gain on a personal level if it was open to all, especially as half the residents I represent are the other side of it.’
The protest was organised by Winchester City Councillor for Whiteley, Cllr Vivian Achwal. She said: ‘It’s obvious people want it open.
‘I want the county council to review it.’
Tim Clarke of Mustang Avenue in Whiteley said: ‘I work in Hedge End, but only live 150yds from this junction, so it’s incredibly valuable to me.
‘It means I’m not clogging up the motorway, and my wife working at Brookfield School can get there in five minutes instead of half an hour.’
More than 1,900 people have signed an online petition calling for the opening to stay, while 178 want bollards to remain up. Jim Wood, chairman of the Burridge and Swanwick Residents ‘Association, said: ‘It was an original agreement with the developers to not open Yew Tree Drive until Whiteley Way is completed.
‘It isn’t yet, and I see no reason why that arrangement should change.’
Cllr Woodward added: ‘Changes to local plans are not made on the back of petitions and protests, whether for or against, and there are equally strong views in both camps.
‘Any decision to vary that policy will primarily take account of highway safety matters, not personal convenience.’
The bollards were due to be raised again this morning.