Cabbies film Prom traffic jams

Photo Neil Cross Blackpool taxi drivers have appointed a transport consultant to lookat traffic in the town. Bill Lewtas, John Curruthers, Frank Landini and Ian Wharmby of Blacktax
Photo Neil Cross Blackpool taxi drivers have appointed a transport consultant to lookat traffic in the town. Bill Lewtas, John Curruthers, Frank Landini and Ian Wharmby of Blacktax
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Blackpool cabbies are to submit video evidence of traffic queues on the Promenade in a bid to persuade government chiefs to scrap plans to extend the tramway.

An hour-long DVD has been made as part of a survey commissioned by resort taxi companies who claim putting in a new tram crossing at the junction of Central Promenade and Talbot Road will increase gridlock in the town centre.

Preston-based transport consultant John Carruthers has been quizzing taxi drivers about their experiences and monitoring traffic.

Bill Lewtas, secretary of the Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators Association (BLTOA), said: “What was clear from the survey is that drivers are struggling to get passengers to their destinations.

“It is only by avoiding the A584 Promenade and using back streets that they are able to reduce journey times.

“However even these are becoming gridlocked at certain times and air pollution levels must be rising because of the stationary vehicles.

“A Saturday afternoon test journey timed from the Claremont Hotel at Pleasant Street to Rigby Road along the Promenade, a distance just over a mile, was 25 minutes.

“We continued on to the Pleasure Beach and returned to Blackpool North.

“In total the journey was almost one hour, which is not acceptable for taxi passengers.

“Complete CCTV footage is available on DVD to illustrate the problems which arose.”

Cabbie Terry Thornley, who is among those who have taken part in the survey, said: “Regarding congestion in town centre, this is horrendous.

“Even at quiet periods the zebra crossings on the Promenade can make it difficult. And even side roads are congested due to poor traffic management.”

BLTOA chairman Frank Landini added: “The taxi trade has suffered with Promenade congestion problems for the last few years with no solutions from the council and planners.

“Unfortunately motorists and residents are left with the consequences of their decisions.”

The £22m bid to extend the tramway from North Pier to Blackpool North Station is currently awaiting a decision from the Secretary of State for Transport.

A ruling has already been made that a planning inquiry is not necessary, but a final decision is yet to be made on the scheme.

Council chiefs say the junction will not have any significant impact on traffic flow, and that extending the tramway will support economic growth by ensuring Blackpool has vital transport links.

A town hall consultation process elicited 134 responses, with 81 supporting the extension bid and 46 objecting including a number of taxi drivers, with eight responses concerned with other issues.