A major road that will carry traffic from the south of Corby to the A6003 has opened to the public today.
The A43 Link Road runs from the Eurohub roundabout near Stanion to the A6003 at Barford bridge. It has been two years in the making and cost about £34m.
Dozens of councillors, road workers and civil servants joined transport minister Robert Goodwill MP at the official opening of the road at noon.
Children from Little Stanion Primary and Geddington CE Primary School were also there when the ribbon was cut.
A cavalcade of emergency vehicles, grit spreaders, highways vehicles and high-performance sports cars from Silverstone were the first to travel along the road.
Members of the public waved from bridges and farm workers sat in fields along the route to watch the proceedings.
One of the main functions of the road will be to calm traffic in Geddington.
Councillor Jim Harker, who lives in Geddington, said he remembered counting cars going through Geddington as an 11-year-old in the 1950s when the case for a village bypass was first raised.
Now leader of Northamptonshire County Council, Cllr Harker, said: “I’ve been involved in this road for most of my life.
“It was in the early 1950s that the need for a new road became apparent.
“Then we were talking about 10-tonne lorries that came through the village - now it’s 40-tonne trucks.
”I did my bit with my friends from school by counting the vehicles going through the village each day.”
The former A43 through Geddington is now called the A4003.
Campaigner Charlie McCormick, chairman of the Geddington A43 Action Group, fought for the Corby Link Road for 23 years. He said: “In 1988 we had about 15,000 vehicles a day going through Geddington.
“We started an independent action group and were faced with a lot of opposition.
“I was even called an anarchist at one point!
“We did a survey of everyone in the village to ask them what they wanted to happen to the A43.
“They said that in the short term they wanted traffic slowing down, and in the long term they wanted traffic removing from the village.”
The group’s first victory was to get a 30mph speed limit on the A43 as well as a pelican crossing and then a traffic camera.
Charlie added: “We knew that no government would fork out the money for 2,000 people in Geddington so we thought that it was important that this was a Corby Link Road, to improve traffic in Corby, rather than just a Geddington bypass.”
In those days, the old Labour council in Corby was at loggerheads with the Blairite Labour council in Kettering and it took some negotiating just to get the councillors to sit down together to talk.
The group did presentations and held public events, as well as lobbying the local media to get them on-side.
He said: “It was tough. We had elected these people and it was hard to get them to build our road. We wanted earth-movers but we got pen-pushers.”
A lot of the campaign group originally joined the protest because they had small children and it was hard for them to cross the road. Now those children have left home.
Charlie said: “I would just say to people in our position to keep fighting. Be politically astute, persistent and a bit bloody-minded.”
There is more information about the long-running fight for the road here
MP Andy Sawford, who was at today’s road opening, said: “The opening of the A43 Corby Link Road has been long-awaited by Corby businesses and those needing to travel to and from the south of the town.
“Corby is the manufacturing capital of the UK and is a major distribution hub but the roads need upgrading and improving.
“The completion of the A43 link road is good news but it makes it even more important now that the council gets Geddington Road fully re-opened and that we see progress with the Northern Orbital relief road.”