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Plans for 24-hour cycle zone in town scrapped.

Byline: David Godsall david.godsall@trinitymirror.com

PLANS to create a shared 24-hour Pedestrian and Cycle Zone in the Market Place area of Loughborough have been scrapped. It follows a wave of protest from the public - and has led to calls for Charnwood Borough Council to pay up for the costs of work already undertaken by Leicester-shire County Council, though the borough council has defended its position.

At a meeting of the county council last week, Coun Max Hunt, county councillor for the Loughborough North West ward, asked whether the conversion of Loughborough's pedestrianised shopping area into a Pedestrian and Cycle Zone was supported by a county wide policy.

He wanted to know if Charnwood Borough Council was a partner or consultee in the project, and what its view was.

He said: "Is the Leader aware of the significant concern in the town concerning the conflict between cycles and pedestrians and does he consider this the best way to resolve this conflict? "Does the Leader consider that the county council are sufficiently in touch with shoppers in Loughborough and understand their needs?" In reply, Coun Blake Pain, cabinet member for highways, said: "Charnwood Borough Council is both. Borough council officers have worked with the county council over the past year to develop a single pedestrian and cycle zone.

"They approached the county council in the first place wanting to resolve the ambiguities with the current orders and with a view to expanding the market place.

"Charnwood Borough Council is also a statutory consultee. At the time of the proposals going to consultation borough council officers were supportive. Once the consultation period began, Charnwood Borough Council objected to the proposals.

"To reiterate, this work was initially instigated by Charnwood Borough Council."

Coun Pain said the borough council had provided the county council with the opportunity to review and consolidate the existing confusing traffic regulation orders along with addressing concerns raised by the police.

Coun Pain added: "After over a year's worth of work with both Charnwood Borough Council and Loughborough BID a proposal was agreed by all parties and put out to consultation which closed on March 14.

"Officers have now considered the responses to that consultation and in view of the U-turn by Charnwood Borough Council on this matter along with the comments raised, I have decided in consultation with the Leader that the county council will no longer be pursuing any changes to the current situation in central Loughborough.

"I have now requested that the costs the county council has incurred to date in pursuing this abortive initiative are discussed with Charnwood Borough Council with a view to seeking appropriate recompense."

After the meeting, Coun Max Hunt added: "I think the borough council owe us all an apology.

"The Conservative Group who run the borough council either don't know what's going on or they don't talk to Loughborough shoppers. I suspect in this case it was both."

A Charnwood Borough Council spokesman said: "Let us be clear, the borough council did not at any point propose any alterations regarding the restrictions on cyclists in Loughborough town centre.

"Discussions started last year with Leicestershire County Council about replacing the existing traffic regulations in Loughborough town centre with a single order that would make it easier to manage events in the town centre.

"We also wanted to make it simpler for people to understand what was and was not allowed in the town centre in terms of traffic.

"It appears the county council consulted two ward members in November about the proposed changes.

"It then informed us about the proposed changes, including the lifting of restrictions on cyclists in December.

"We asked for a meeting in January and at that point we did raise a concern about this element of the proposal.

"The county council then launched its consultation and as a statutory consultee we have responded. We clearly support the overall proposal to merge the traffic regulation orders and have not objected to that.

"However, we have emphasised the importance of pedestrian safety and it's a matter for the county council to address that as the highway authority.

"The cycling issue is just one small part of the proposed new traffic regulation order and we see no reason why the process cannot continue with any concerns addressed as part of that."

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The existing signs at the entrance to Market Place from High Street.
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Publication:Loughborough Echo (Loughborough, England)
Date:Mar 28, 2018
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