Square to re-open to traffic

View looking across the square
View looking across the square
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BLACKPOOL’S St John’s Square will re-open to traffic after it was agreed taxis should be allowed to drop passengers off directly outside the Winter Gardens.

Coaches will also be permitted into the square to enable their passengers to disembark.

But the changes will only be brought in during the evenings to allow the open space to continue to hold day-time events, such as the continental markets.

The gates at the Leopold Grove end of the square will be open from 6pm until 10.30am daily to allow access for both taxis and coaches.

But there will be no through route, with drivers expected to exit the same way they came.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for transport on Blackpool Council, said: “We have had people express their concern at the fact if they want to go to shows at the Winter Gardens or Opera House, it is very difficult to be dropped off near enough, which in turn makes it hard for people with disabilities.

“We hope it will be a success but it will be monitored.

“The aim in the day time is to try to encourage events taking place in St John’s Square which will attract people to that area and rejuvenate it.

“At this moment in time we have no intention of re-opening the square during day time.

“We want to encourage day markets and other events.”

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The square was closed to vehicles in August 2010 but taxis were allowed back in during last year’s Illuminations in a bid to ease congestion on the Promenade.

The area originally opened on a shared space basis for taxis and buses until traffic was banned altogether to make the area safer for pedestrians, but the taxi trade has continually lobbied to have access reinstated.

Bill Lewtas, of the Blackpool Licensed Taxi Association, welcomed the latest step.

He said: “We have had a number of meetings with the council about taxi access to St John’s Square and we are very happy to be back from 6pm in the evening, after Friday.

“This will help us provide a better customer service especially to disabled people who have struggled for the last 18 months.

“In the evenings we can now drop passengers by the door to the Winter Gardens and pick them up when they come out at the nearby taxi rank.

“I think it also helps deter crime having taxis parked there in the evening.”

The cabs will also be able to use the rank within St John’s Square.

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