Boots Corner safety questions must be asked - Cheltenham councillor
THE safety of pedestrianising Boots' corner while continuing to allow dozens of buses through every hour has been questioned by a Cheltenham stalwart.
At the moment, 49 buses pass through the heart of Cheltenham town centre during each morning rush hour, while 52 pass through during the evening's busiest period.
Plans to pedestrianise the area as part of a wider bid to tear up the town's one-way system are currently subject to consultation and Councillor Barbara Driver (C, Lansdown) believes the "very frightening aspect" of having a bus pass through nearly every minute must be challenged.
Writing in today's Echo she states: "With all the reports given by Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucestershire Highways, and indeed in the questionnaire, there is one very frightening aspect not mentioned: that buses will go through the pedestrian area one per minute, 60 every hour.
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"Is that really a safe idea?
"Would it be family friendly, especially for those with young children, let alone the elderly?"
She said disabled people were currently being consulted on, and she hoped their feelings on the matter would be taken seriously.
"The blind and partially sighted have asked that members of Cheltenham Development Task Force, Cheltenham Borough Council's cabinet and Gloucestershire Highways spend time in the town centre while blindfolded," she added.
Gloucestershire Highways said there was no prospect of bus numbers increasing to 60 an hour.
Project manager Andrew Hieron said: "Throughout the consultation we have been clear that, under the proposal, buses will still use Boots' corner.
"We are at the consultation stage and no decisions have been made – we want to know what people in Cheltenham think of the idea.
"During the morning rush hour, 49 buses currently enter Boots' corner. In the evening rush hour there are 52, with less at other times.
"As a comparison, 36 buses in each peak hour use the High Street towards The Brewery."
Every morning between 8am and 9am, 23 buses going through Boots' corner come from Clarence Street and 26 from Pittville Street.
Thirteen continue their journey up North Street while 36 enter the High Street.
Between 5pm and 6pm, 52 buses enter Boots' Corner, with 27 from Clarence Street and 25 from Pittville Street.
Sixteen of these vehicles continue the journey up North Street while 36 enter the High Street.
Under the Boots' corner plans, two-way traffic would be restored to sections of the town which are currently one-way, including in front of Town Hall.
The aim of the transport scheme is to make it easier for people to access the town and to improve the centre by reducing traffic emissions and creating new public space.
Consultation on the plans runs until Sunday, September 1, with thousands of people across Cheltenham being asked for their opinions.
A number of consultation workshops have also been held and there will be two more in the coming days with one held in the Promenade tomorrow outside Waterstone's from 11am to 3pm.
■ See page six for Barbara Drivers' column Barb's Wire.