WRONG TURN? Bin lorry driver facing probe after tram track detour
A bin lorry driver took a detour down the tramway because his '˜clutch had broken'.
The wagon was pictured on the Promenade tracks, heading towards to the town centre and surrounded by tourists, as a heritage tram rumbled along behind it.
Town hall officials say the driver was unable to stop and was trying to get to Layton depot for repairs, though they pledged to investigate the matter further.
But one passenger claims the wagon pulled onto the tracks close to the Sandcastle Waterpark in South Shore, drove at speed towards Central Pier, and pulled off onto the Tower Festival Headland.
The 48-year-old said: “The tram was tooting all the way up the Prom.
“There was no wave or acknowledgement.”
The man, who did not wish to be named, said he was riding the open boat tram — packed full of holidaymakers — at around 4pm on Bank Holiday Monday when he spotted the blue automatic wagon.
“It was going at 30mph, with no hazards or warnings,” he said.
“If he was doing it because he can’t stop, what would have happened if he slammed his brakes on because somebody walked in front of him?
“My main concern was safety. People don’t expect to see a big wagon on there.
“The tram driver was shaking his head, and the conductor said he had taken his number down.”
The Thornton resident continued: “You see the Coastguard going along the Prom but at 5mph with the hazards on. This was at speed.
“The tram was going at a fair speed too.”
The emergency services are allowed to use the tram tracks under certain circumstances and at certain times, such as during Tuesday evening’s Ride The Lights event, when the Prom was clogged up by thousands of cyclists.
But they have sirens and flashing lights.
Opposition leader Tony Williams said: “The story doesn’t add up.
“The driver is going to have to get off the Prom to Layton depot and there are roundabouts and traffic lights before you get there.
“And if the clutch is broken he should not be driving through the town, he should call the break-down service.
“It’s highly irresponsible and possibly illegal for him to be endangering people by trying to get the vehicle back to the depot.”
A Blackpool Council spokesman added: “This vehicle was emptying bins on the Promenade.
“However, due to a problem with the automatic gearbox being stuck in a high gear it needed returning to Layton Depot to be repaired.
“In a situation like this, drivers are expected to consider safety, obstruction and suitability.
“In most cases this decision is to park up on the side of the road and wait for assistance, unless there is a pressing reason why this isn’t possible.
“There are occasions where staff have to access the tramways to carryout servicing of litter bins due to obstructions and they are familiar with those tramway permissions.
“We will be speaking to the driver, finding out why this decision was made and reminding them of the tramway permissions.”