Crossing link will be closed

Coun Fred Jackson

Coun Fred Jackson

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A TRAM crossing linking residents to vital services will be closed.

Anchorsholme residents have campaigned tirelessly against the closure of the Lauderdale Avenue tram crossing and 3,000 people signed a petition calling for it to remain open.

However, Blackpool Council’s Executive Committee last night voted unanimously to close it on safety grounds.

The executive said the council needed to close the crossing to allow the resort’s new supertram service to run efficiently and safely, given the increased speed and quietness of the new rolling stock.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for transport, submitted a report to the executive and urged councillors to back the closure.

He said: “From the safety and reliability angle, I believe to leave the junction as it is now is not an option.

“It puts a lot of residents in Anchorsholme at risk and places an unbearable burden on tram drivers and the management of Blackpool Transport.

“I have to recommend to the executive to support the option for the prohibition of driving and a relocated pedestrian crossing.

“I realise this will disappoint many residents in the area, but I believe the council has a responsibility to all the residents of the town, and in the interest of the greater good, I sincerely believe this is the right decision to take.”

Petition organiser Paul Merrilson and Anchorsholme councillor Paul Galley called for the council to make a “common sense” decision.

They both claimed the closure of the crossing would hinder residents, who would be cut off from shops and a health centre.

Mr Merrilson also claimed the report’s safety fears were unfounded.

He told The Gazette: “I would like to state I’ve dealt with many reports in my time, but I have never seen one with as many red herrings.

“It would appear from day one, the authority had only one objective – to get the crossing closed.”

The decision to close the crossing was met with an angry response by the residents, but Coun Galley has vowed to continue the fight and said he will take the issue to a Judicial Review.

He said: “I’m very disappointed, but this is not the end, it’s just the beginning.

“I feel like everything I put forward wasn’t listened to and nothing was taken into account.”

David Hutchinson, from Ipswich Place, Anchorsholme, said: “I’m appalled with the decision.

“The last resort is a Judicial Review and if it comes to that, I will go for it.”

Frank Bilsborrow, from Kelsow Avenue, Anchorsholme, added: “I’m disgusted with the outcome, but we are continuing to fight.”