‘We have listened to your views on future of Prom’ says council

A busy Blackpool Prom.

A busy Blackpool Prom.

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Resort transport chiefs have insisted they have listened to residents over the future of Blackpool Promenade.

The council’s 10-man executive committee opted to leave Central Promenade as it is and reject four other plans for change – including the possibility of it returning to a four-lane highway.

Councillors said they had taken public consultation into account when arriving at the decision on Monday night.

The consultation – which has been criticised by some for not giving the public the chance to select a preferred road layout option – saw the vast majority of those who took part stating that delivering a good two-way traffic flow on the stretch of highway 
between North Pier and New Bonny Street was crucial.

Almost 82 per cent of respondents said this should be the key goal of the Prom.

But they also wanted pedestrian safety, with 76 per cent ranking that as the most important factor.

The conclusions from the survey emerged after council chiefs made their decision after Monday’s meeting.

The two-day survey, which was held online and at a public exhibition of the five options, also saw more than 67 per cent of respondents agree the Promenade was a “key route for both public and private transport”.

Coun John Jones, cabinet member for highways on Blackpool Council, said: “Following the debate, we concluded that we should go for option one and keep the situation under review.

“The public consultation we carried out did not produce a conclusive outcome.”

He said this was based on the fact people’s priorities were both for good traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

Coun Jones added: “We also took into consideration roads around the Talbot Gateway opening up.

“Traffic will be taken away from the Prom along Dickson Road.

“Also Central Promenade is a 20mph zone and people do slow down because of the attractions along that stretch.”

However, the results of the survey also indicated 59 per cent of people would be happy for any closure while work was being carried out to be “as long as required.”

Around 41 per cent 
said they used the Prom as a through north to south route, with 20 per cent using it as a pedestrian and 11.5 
percent using it to access 
public transport.

The council’s executive made the decision following an independent report produced by engineering consultants Arup, at a cost of £6,000, which had also recommended the Prom stay as it is.

Residents had complained about congestion on the shared space Prom.

But councillors heard the cost of making changes would have been as much as £2.6m to return to four lanes.

It would have led to further disruption while work was carried out, and maintenance of other roads as part of Project 30 would have had to be sacrificed.

A trial which has seen traffic signals switched off at the junction of the Prom with Talbot Square, and with New Bonny Street, will continue.

Hoteliers support plan to leave area exactly as it is

Hoteliers with properties close to Central Promenade today told The Gazette they thought it was right to leave the road as it is for now.

Helen Mansell, of the Bamford House Hotel, on York Street, and vice-president of StayBlackpool, said: “Since the traffic signals and crossing were removed at New Bonny Street, the traffic has been moving more smoothly.

“I think we need a period of stability without digging it up again, and then maybe the council could revisit the issue next year.”

Neil Winkley of the Aberford Hotel on Yorkshire Street, said: “The Promenade looks beautiful so who wants to dig it up again just so they can get to St Annes a bit quicker?

“The traffic does move slowly, but at the end of the day we are a tourist town.

“I use other routes to get around when the Prom is busy.”

Stephen Brookes, chairman of the Blackpool Passenger Focus Panel which represents public transport users, said: “I think we need to use other roads in the town centre more wisely rather than spend a lot of money changing the Promenade again.

“For example, I would like to see the council continue with keeping St John’s Square open to taxis and buses as I think that will help ease congestion as well.

“I don’t want to see the council spending a lot of money, which could be used for other vital services, when it wouldn’t be much better.

“But I do think we need to educate people better about pedestrian safety.”

Figures also show the number of people injured in accidents on Central Promenade dropped from 14 in 2010 before the layout was changed, to four in 2012.

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