The Saturday Slant - January 21, 2013

Traffic outside the Tower where plans for a new crossing have been unveiled.
Traffic outside the Tower where plans for a new crossing have been unveiled.
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Has new Prom had its day?

MY father-in-law is pretty much someone who tells it as it is.

A straight-talking Mancuncian, nothing escapes his judgement.

He was in Blackpool last weekend for my lad’s birthday party at The Tower Circus where Mooky and the team once again proved they put on one of the best shows in town.

But it was the antics outside of the ring that brought most comment from my wife’s old man.

“What a beautiful view,” he admired as he looked out across the Irish Sea towards a stunning sunset.

He was right. The vistas over the Comedy Carpet, above the new look Prom wall and out to sea were beautiful.

“But what the hell have they done to the road?” was his follow up.

It’s hard not to agree with this rather basic and pointed viewpoint. The much-vaunted new-look Golden Mile roadway has drawn much criticism since it was opened up to traffic.

Shared Space was the concept – a Utopian ideal where man and machine live together in perfect harmony. There is no need for kerbs or road markings as there is no fear of collision... apparently

It is a noble experiment, but one which I fear has 
sadly failed.

Yesterday’s Gazette front page told of how the council is now ready to install a fourth zebra crossing in just one 700-yard stretch between North Pier and New Bonny Street.

Before Shared Space, and the reduction from four lanes into two, there was just one pelican crossing on this stretch.

A report into the road scheme said the new crossing was essential for pedestrian safety and, given the lack of clear kerbs and road markings, I can certainly see why – especially for families with young children piling out of the circus. But does this not go against everything this new roadway was supposed to be?

Well of course it does.

Is it not time to admit it has not worked and to rip it up and start again?

I would say it is.

Of course, with that would come massive cost and more roadworks.

But I would say it is a cost surely worth investigating.

I was caught several times last year in Blackpool’s newest seafront show. It is titled ‘Gridlock’. It plays five nights weekly to massive standstill crowds.

The reduction of four lanes to, well, no lanes, has created a log jam which is not conducive for a town which relies on a fluid flow of traffic.

I get the argument we should get out of our cars and see the Lights on foot, or take a tram.

But this is not just about trying to get visitors spending – it should also be about commuters and taxi drivers.

I love the fact that by it’s very motto, Blackpool strives for Progress and is always willing to try something new.

But aren’t the repeated changes that have been made to the Shared Space scheme not evidence enough that it has not worked?

The problems it has created, the reduction of lanes and now crossings simply make this a no-go area for some.

Taxi drivers, landau owners and now opposition councillors are wading into the debate.

Go onto Google Maps, drag that little man onto the Prom and you can navigate (virtually) the old style four-lane road. Taxi drivers will 
undoubtedly look misty eyed at it.

Maybe council highways chiefs should take another look at this old system which, while not the most 
aesthetically pleasing, was functional.

Welcome to Yorkshire - just don’t expect a wave Wiggo

ONE of my favourite stories of the week has to be the announcement of the route the Tour de France will take when it arrives in this country in July 2014.

I always thought it odd, and more than a little charitable, that organisers of a race surely all about France sub-let part of the spectacle each year.

And now it is set for 
Yorkshire.

Re branded T’Tour de France it will speed through such lovely parts of the world as Ilkley, York, Harrogate and Keighley.

I used to live just down the road from Keighley and I have to say the countryside around there is beautiful. It will certainly give Sir 
Wiggo and the rest of his brightly coloured lycra posse something nice to look at if they happen to drift from the ‘zone’ or whatever the modern sporting parlance is for concentration.

In previous columns in The Gazette I detailed my less than pleasant stay in God’s Own Country.

To be fair we just didn’t settle and we were back over the Pennines before you could say ‘it’s 
neither nowt nor summat’ or ‘where there’s muck, there’s brass’.

But one thing really got my goat.

No, not the fact any caller to my house insisted on knocking at the back door (as if the front was being saved for best like your Granny’s parlour), it was the roads.

Never have I been to a part of the UK where a courtesy wave to a driver letting another through a gap in the road was in such short supply.

It must be written down in the White Rose constitution – same one which says districts are called Ridings.

So Sir Wiggo, enjoy your trip to Yorkshire, enjoy the views, just don’t expect a wave if you 
happen to let a Renault Espace through on your way to Otley Chevin.

Gazette cliches just 4U

I RECEIVED a cracking letter this week. . . or should I say, a very good piece of correspondence.

William Boddell wrote in to point out some rather alarming modernisation of the English language within the pages of The Gazette.

Now I love the odd cliché, name me a journalist who doesn’t, but I have to admit it appears either our mother tongue has metamorphosised (sorry changed) over the years or we here at The Gazette are trying to get too down with the kids (be fashionable).

Mr Boddell has put together a list of words or phrases which have appeared on our pages which have got him thinking as to how they once were.

I’d like to thank Mr Boddell for bringing a smile to my face, or should that be ‘making me LOL’, I can’t be too sure?