Delays warning as Prom shuts for tram work

The junction of the Prom and Talbot Square will be closed for six weeks to enable tram works to take place
The junction of the Prom and Talbot Square will be closed for six weeks to enable tram works to take place
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Business owners today reacted angrily after being told Blackpool Promenade is to close for up to six weeks at Talbot Square while work to extend the tramway begins.

Starting from Monday, motorists will be diverted around the town centre via Cookson Street.

The tramway will be extended up Talbot Road

The tramway will be extended up Talbot Road

The work is necessary to relocate utility pipes in preparation for the £21m extension of the tram tracks up Talbot Road from North Pier to North Station.

But business operators are upset at the disruption just before Christmas.

It comes at the same time as Harrowside and Squires Gate bridges are closed.

The Talbot Square junction will be closed between November 13 and December 22, while other road closures will take place between November and February.

As well as diversions, measures to ease traffic congestion will include opening St John’s Square to traffic and making Church Street two way.

The pipe work is due to be completed by next March.

Dickson Road will be closed for resurfacing work.

Critics warned the work would bring the town centre to a standstill.

Bill Lewtas, secretary of Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators Association, said; “We have had meetings with the council to try to reduce the disruption.

“However we don’t support this tramway extension and we believe it would have been possible to plan for the regeneration of Blackpool’s town centre without this.

“Many months of disruption are ahead of us.”

John Newton, of Blackpool Mobility and Hire on Dickson Road, said: “There has been no consultation whatsoever and businesses on Dickson Road are fuming.

“We have three vehicles operating out of this shop and the council has given us no warning.

“It will affect our business terribly. What about the hotels around here, with Christmas coming up?”

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said: “The timing of this when there is already a lot of disruption due to work by United Utilities and the closure of the Squires Gate and Harrowside bridges means Blackpool will be a no go area.

“It is going to be chaos, especially for taxi drivers, and what about the impact on all the restaurants and bars in the run up to Christmas?”

But transport chiefs say the investment is key to the regeneration of the town.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for highways on Blackpool Council, said: “We understand there is going to be some disruption but we are carrying out works in stages to try and reduce any inconvenience for road users.

“We apologise in advance for any delays which may be caused and thank residents and commuters in advance for their patience.”

Coun Jackson said the investment was key to the future prosperity of the town.

He added: “The improvement works are vital in helping us create a better town centre, including better roads and transport.

“The work will provide benefits to the Blackpool community and visitors to the town for years to come.”

Closures over the next three months include: Talbot Road at the junction of Abingdon Street between November 6 and December 22; Talbot Square including the junction with the Promenade, and Talbot Road junction with Dickson Road, both between November 13 and December 22; and Dickson Road from Talbot Road to Lansdowne Place between November 13 and February 16.

The scheme is being funded through £16.4m from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and £4.7m from the council.

A new tram terminal linking in with Blackpool North railway station will also be built.

Blackpool Transport has also ordered two new trams to add to its fleet in order to meet operating demand on the new stretch of track.