Decision to allow buses in pedestrian area of Loughborough put on hold
A decision to allow buses to drive through a proposed pedestrian area in Loughborough town centre has been put on hold.
Highways bosses had been due to approve a trial that would have seen buses and shoppers sharing the pedestrianised part of the A6 through the heart of teh town.
However, Leicestershire County Council’s cabinet today rethought the scheme after appeals by councillors and residents, 520 of whom signed a petition against the idea.
Under a planned £15 million scheme buses were to have been allowed to continue to travel both ways along the route they currently use while all other traffic would be diverted along an inner relief road along the eastern fringe of the town centre.
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The idea had been branded “barmy” and dangerous by objectors who believe the pedestrian area should be entirely traffic free.
The council has now decided to hold off making a decision until consulting residents.
They are to be asked if they think all vehicles should be excluded from the pedestrian area, if buses should be allowed one way, or both ways before any decision is made.
County councillor for Loughborough’s north west division Max Hunt said: “I am pleased there is another chance for people to have their say on this. It’s barmy to allow buses in a pedestrian area and the decision should be made for the convenience of the people rather than that of the bus companies.
County Hall’s transport director Ian Drummond warned councillors that bus companies were worried about the extra costs of diverting around the town centre as well as the impact on timetables.
He said about 6,000 people used buses daily to get into Loughborough and that they were “vital to a thriving town centre”.
He said: “If we choose to prohibit buses entirely the bus companies could force us to a public inquiry.”
Loughborough resident Anne Kingston, who collected the petition, said: “So what if it goes to a public inquiry? I think the bus companies would lose and we would end up with a properly pedestrianised town centre. That’s what most people want.”
Loughborough South county councillor David Slater proposed the new consultation.
He declined to say if he thought buses should be allowed in the pedestrian zone but said: “I honestly don’t have an opinion on what is right. I want the best solution and to get to that we need to listen to what people think. We have got another consultation so people will be heard.”