Blackpool cabbies '˜horrendous' traffic warning over tram plans
Blackpool cabbies today warned plans to run trams up Talbot Road will cause 'horrendous' congestion on the Promenade.
They are calling on town hall chiefs to put the brakes on the £22m scheme to link Blackpool North train station with the tram tracks at North Pier.
Today councillors are set to approve a £7.8m move to buy and redevelop the Wilkinson’s building on Talbot Road to make way for a new tram terminus as part of the project.
But taxi drivers claim extending the tramway will add to existing traffic queues and disrupt the town centre once construction work begins in 2018.
They claim trams branching off across the Prom to travel up Talbot Road will spark jams at busy times.
Bill Lewtas, secretary of the Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operatiors Association, said: “It is generally accepted by most people Blackpool is more congested now than five years ago.
“This is primarily due to the changes on the Promenade which also causes traffic to divert off and build up elsewhere.
“If this development goes forward we predict two years of mayhem while the work takes place, businesses on Talbot Road would lose trade and even more shops would close and when the work is complete congestion will be much worse.
“Talbot Road and the Promenade are already badly affected by the changes from five years ago.
“I know people will say this is motivated by fear of competition. But that isn’t the case because when people share taxis, we are cheaper on most routes.”
Dee Grant, a director of Blackpool taxi firm C Cabs, said: “If the carriageway is narrowed to put the tramway in, where will our taxis park when they are picking up customers from the pubs and restaurants on Talbot Road?
“It is already horrendous on that section of the Promenade, so if you have trams, buses and cars all trying to get across the Prom there, it will cause massive congestion.”
Taxi driver David Palmer added: “I feel the town centre will become segregated if they insist on running trams up Talbot Road, that is a heavily congested road into town at parts of the day.”
A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “We know lots of people will have an opinion about the proposed extension of the tramway and we want to hear those views.
“In the coming weeks we will be arranging a meeting with interested parties including the taxi operators so we can update them on the plans and discuss any concerns they might have.
“Once a draft design has been developed there will be an exhibition and opportunity for members of the public to comment on the plans.”