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Liverpool is seeking to introduce a Bus gate in the heart of the City Centre

Car ban - A Bus gate is to be installed changing Westbound traffic on Ranelagh Street heading towards Liverpool's waterfront

CARS are to be stopped from accessing a major road in the heart of Liverpool City Centre to allow a:- "Bus Gate" to improve the flow of public transport for tens of thousands of passengers every day. A report that has been submitted to Liverpool City Council's Cabinet, on Friday, 14 August 2020, is recommending the measure be introduced to help reduce congestion and pollution and improve safety along a key corridor connecting the City's Knowledge Quarter to the waterfront. If approved the Council will seek to ban all traffic; except Buses, Taxis, Private Hire vehicles and bikes; heading Westbound into Ranelagh Street and Hanover Street, from Lime Street. The measure would be introduced as an Experimental Traffic Order and would be reviewed after 12 months.

Councillor Liam Robinson, Transport Portfolio Holder for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said:- "Establishing a Bus gate is a really positive move for the City Centre and should help to resolve some of the major issues on Hanover Street with congestion. It will allow Bus services quicker access to the City Centre, reaching the places that people want to get to, helping to encourage more people out of their cars and into Buses. Additionally, it will make the area safer for pedestrians. It should also be helpful in our long term aims to make use of the devolved powers for Bus and making a Bus network to benefit the City Region as a whole."

According to a survey of traffic the route has been used as a rat run with a high number of accidents involving pedestrians crossing from Church Street to Bold Street, which has recently been fully pedestrianised to support eateries recovering from the Covid-19 lockdown. The proposed changes will not affect eastbound traffic as Lime Street is to be remodelled between St John's Lane and Skelhorne Street as part of the ₤47 million Liverpool City Centre Connectivity (LCCC) scheme, which will remove access to traffic.

To ensure that the Bus gate supports current and future Bus routes, it is proposed that it be operational between 7am to midnight, every day of the week. An additional benefit to the change will enable the City Region's Bus Alliance to consider reinstating Bus services, such as the 82 service for south Liverpool, and to support the wider LCCC projects, such as the redesign of The Strand.

To facilitate the Bus gate on Ranelagh/Hanover Street, it is proposed the current locations of the Blue Badge bay (outside the Lyceum on South side) and Taxi Rank (on North side) be swapped to allow blue badge holders to park with the flow of traffic and to ensure ease of access into the main retail area of the City.

Prior to the scheme becoming live, a CCTV system will be installed and tested to ensure that it meets the requirements of the Department for Transport (DfT) and Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

To improve traffic flow and Bus punctuality along the route further, the priority at the junction of Hanover Street with Gradwell Street, will also be changed to give priority to traffic along Hanover Street.

vCouncillor Sharon Connor, Cabinet Member for Highways, said:- "The introduction of this Bus gate will be a hugely welcome improvement to how people travel in and around Liverpool City Centre; especially Bus users, pedestrians and cyclists. Hanover and Ranelagh Street are currently used as a 'rat run' and that is simply not an acceptable situation especially when we are encouraging people to walk and cycle more and we are committed to improving our air quality as well. The benefits of this measure will be considerable in terms of reducing congestion and improving safety in the heart of our City Centre and consultation with our Bus partners and public and private Taxi sectors has been critical to how it has been designed. The Bus gate is a key part of a much wider package of projects to improve accessibility in the City Centre, so it should not be looked at in isolation. It has been designed to complement the changes to The Strand and Lime Street, which are long overdue given how the City Centre has transformed over the past three decades, and should also knit nicely with our work to improve access and safety on Bold Street. If approved we would hope to introduce the Bus gate by the autumn and we will continue to monitor the road to see what difference it is making and if any further changes need to be made."

For more information on the Liverpool City Centre Connectivity Scheme please go to:- Liverpool.Gov.UK/Betterroads.

New vision for Bootle's New Strand Shopping Centre

SEFTON Council's vision for the long term future of Bootle New Strand Shopping Centre continues to progress with the acquisition of adjacent sites and progression of soft market testing regarding options and opportunities for the future of the Centre. This is the 1st step in realising the Council's long term aspirations to redevelop and repurpose The Strand.

In 2017, Sefton Council bought The Strand and earlier this year it secured some of the neighbouring sites. This means the Council can now steer the regeneration of a wider area of The Strand and Bootle Town Centre.

With Bootle proving to be one of the Towns in the UK hardest hit by COVID-19, the Council is reviewing a range of short term, cost effective "meanwhile" uses for the site while the long term plans are being considered.

Following the adjacent site acquisitions, demolition works will commence this year, as part of work towards making better use of the canal-side location. There will be an emphasis on a distinct food and beverage offer next to the canal, and images have been released to show how the area could look like in the future. These interim:- "meanwhile" uses will transform the area in the short term while longer term planning and public consultation and engagement with residents, Businesses and customers takes place.

Introducing these "meanwhile" measures will mean decommissioning certain areas of the Centre. This may contribute to a reduction in rental income, but the Council will work through the financial impact, alongside these exciting new developments.

Pleasingly, in the most recent financial year (2019/20), The Strand made an operating surplus despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all sectors of society, including retail. This surplus has been added to previous balances generated and has made possible the investment of ₤1 million to help fund other Sefton Council services since the Centre came back into Council ownership.

This proves that the decision to take the Centre back into Council control and away from the private sector was the right 1 for the regeneration of Bootle and the Borough. If this hadn't taken place, The Strand would be unsupported and would be in decline with a wide ranging impact on the local community and wider borough.

There is no retail unit or Shopping Centre in the UK that has not been affected by the pandemic, as the economy has seen a significant decline leading to the country now being in recession, and The Strand, together with all Shopping Centres in the Borough, will be no different in experiencing financial challenges over the coming months and years. Now more than ever, exciting plans such as these to transform a much loved and valued local asset have never been more important.

As part of the long term vision for The Strand and Bootle Town Centre, Sefton Council plans to carry out widespread consultation with local residents and partners, including a:- "Festival of Ideas" in September 2020. The input and perspectives of the public will be key to the success of the Centre in the future.

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said:- "Sefton Council has big ambitions for the future of The Strand and Bootle Town Centre. They remain central to the area's regeneration and this is an opportunity to explore other uses for them. We want to transform the space so that it is be more open and integrated with the surrounding community. It will be a beautiful public space hosting a wide range of uses and facilities, including retail but also food and drink and leisure opportunities. We will also evaluate a number of other potential uses to ensure long-term economic, social and environmental sustainability of the Centre. In particular, we have an ambition to link The Strand to the canal, which can provide not only an attractive environment and space for leisure, but also 'a green transport corridor', for walking, cycling and travel by water. This would link The Strand with other parts of the borough and beyond, including the proposed new Everton Football Stadium, at Bramley Moore Dock."

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