Council leader speaks out in response to calls for pedestrianisation of town centre
The Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has spoken of her commitment to disabled and vulnerable public transport users in West Bridgford following some calls to pedestrianise parts of the town centre.
In June, the council unveiled plans to introduce temporary highways improvements to address the safety of town centre users across Nottinghamshire as high streets start to resume trading as COVID-19 Lockdown restrictions ease.
In response to calls from the Leader of Rushcliffe Borough Council to specifically pedestrianise one area of West Bridgford Town Centre Councillor Kay Cutts said:
“This county needs to get back on it’s feet and I champion that but as the Highway Authority for Nottinghamshire it is also my duty to balance the needs of supporting local business and our residents across this county whilst ensuring the safety of everyone. Town centres are for everyone and I want to make sure that any improvements to the way high streets are used will be to the benefit of the most vulnerable in our communities.
“We continue to keep under review all of the temporary measures we are introducing to support businesses and local people in response to Covid-19 but I do not believe that pedestrianisation in Central Avenue would resolve all the problems of all businesses in West Bridgford Town Centre. Far from it.
“Many elderly people use public transport exclusively, and from my observations of using this service there are some extremely old people with underlying health conditions including neurological conditions, COPD, arthritis, and heart conditions, who – if they are alighting from the bus in Central Avenue – are clearly where they wish to be. Why would we inconvenience them by giving them an extra walk?
“Of course I want to support all businesses to thrive but we need to consult all users of town centres including our transport operators and elderly and disabled users when making changes to the way the town centre is designed.
“Central Avenue includes vital services such as the pharmacy, health food shops, supermarkets and opticians. Not to mention recreation in the bars and restaurants or browsing in the book shop. If I make it harder for those people who need to access theses facilities by bus or by using a disabled parking bay how will they resume the freedom of daily life that we are all entitled to?
“Re-routing buses and removing disabled parking bays will cause significant problems for Bridgford Road which is already a very busy road, heavily congested and with a number of conflicts with pedestrians, car users, and in particular small children attending the nursery.
“I am sure that all of our town centres will have needs that differ depending on the types of businesses and the specific nature of townscapes. Whilst getting the county back on its feet is of paramount importance to me, I will not exclude groups of the community. We are inclusive in the way we work, and we will look to support everyone.”