CHAPEL STREET PEDESTRIANISATION SET TO GET GREEN LIGHT. Report By Dominic Bonner and photographs by Patrick Trollope.
CRITICISM for the proposed pedestrianisation of Chapel Street in Southport gave much food for thought for Sefton council during a recent consultation meeting on the controversial project.
The scheme aims to reduce road accidents, pollution, and redistribute traffic among the existing road network. Also another aim is to improve Southport's flagging retail sector. In which recent statistics reveal that the coastal town has slumped fifty-one places in the national retail scale over the last year.
But angry residents and retailers showed heavy concern about increased traffic within their areas possibly affecting retail areas that could go bust if the scheme were to be implemented. This charge was denied by strategic transportation planning unit spokesman Phil Hunt who
said:- "The scheme will see a reverse in the trend of declining retail space Southport has at present. It will also see an improvement to its environment and improve access to the town via a bus terminal being built in conjunction with Merseytravel which in turn will boost the retail and tourism sectors."
Sefton also came under fire for its lack of distribution of leaflets to households within the area informing residents about the scheme. Some 47,000 documents were distributed but the concern among residents about being misled due to failed delivery only served to heat up this debate.
Yet Sefton were only too keen to massage this claim by stating that intense media coverage from the local area had seen a great response from the local people who were in favour of the pedestrianisation scheme for Chapel Street.
As yet plans still need to be finalised as to how this pedestrianisation will be implemented, likely to be in the spring of 2005, which appears to have the favour of the majority of Southport residents. But ongoing discussions are likely to see this contentious project run for a while yet as Mr Naylor said,
"There are still questions about the scheme we feel need to be answered."
"A six-month trial of such a scheme would be ideal. Cutting out public transport during this period of time would prove very costly and likely to see the scheme fail."
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