£5m bus lanes get go-ahead
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby yesterday approved a £5 million scheme to introduce bus lanes along one of the busiest routes into Leicester.
He has rubber-stamped the work along the A426 from Glen Parva to the city centre.
The scheme is a partnership with Leicestershire County Council, which approved the project last month despite more than 4,000 people, mainly from Glen Parva and Aylestone, signing a petition objecting to it.
The work will be funded by a £2.5 million Government grant, £1.5 million from the city council, £600,000 from Leicestershire County Council and £300,000 from bus firm Arriva.
Objectors said very few buses will use the lanes, which will swallow up pavements vital for pedestrian safety. They said the scheme will not encourage people to ditch their cars in favour of buses and have labelled it a waste of cash.
However, Sir Peter said: "This will enable significant improvements to be made to one of the busiest and most important commuter routes into the city.
"I have met with residents from Aylestone and Glen Parva to hear their concerns, and have also met with Aylestone councillors.
"I have looked in detail at the scheme and am convinced it represents good value for money and will benefit not just bus users, but pedestrians and cyclists, and will even increase junction capacity for drivers.
"Our aim is to provide a good public transport system in the city that will help bring about growth in our economy.
"This scheme will help us to achieve that and I can see no reason not to approve it."
The city council said the A426 carries 37 buses an hour as it reaches the city centre.
It said the scheme also includes capacity improvements to reduce queuing time. They are planned at key junctions, including at Soar Valley Way and Carlton Street. Safety improvements that will reduce accidents and new lengths of cycle lanes are also planned.
Chairman of the Glen Parva and Aylestone Action Group Richard Johnson, who has led the campaign against the scheme, said: "First we heard the county council say how this would increase bus use, but they couldn't provide any evidence. Now we are getting the same from the city mayor.
"It seems local opinion counts for nothing when there's millions of pounds to be spent on a scheme which nobody, other than the councils, seems to want."
Mr Johnson has said he would write to transport minister Norman Baker and the local government ombudsman to query the value of the scheme and get it scrapped.