Southport MP Damien Moore has announced an extension to the deadline for residents and businesses to submit their views on plans to extend the cycle lane scheme through Southport.
People will now have until 25 July to give their views on the proposals, after Mr Moore urged the local authority for more time to be allowed for responses. The consultation was due to close on 27 June.
The council’s plans include a number of new cycle lanes, wider pavements, and crossings. It would also include the further closure of several roads to traffic.
Last year Labour-led Sefton Council imposed measures in Southport’s town centre on a ‘Test and See’ basis – without consultation – which included closing Queens Road to traffic, removing pay and display bays on Hoghton Street and replacing them with cycle lanes, and overturning the ban on cycling on Chapel Street, Wesley Street and Tulketh Street.
Sefton Council has now put forward further proposals in Southport which would link the existing town centre route through Birkdale to the Ainsdale roundabout to the south, and past Hesketh Park, through Churchtown to the Plough Roundabout in the other direction.
A number of concerns have been raised by residents, with online petitions against the scheme gaining over 3,000 signatures, and a local opposition group being created with 600 members. It is believed that the plans would impact the value of homes, lead to increased congestion, result in the loss of thousands of pounds in revenue for the council, and reduce the footfall for local businesses.
Southport MP Damien Moore said:
“These proposals to extend cycle lanes through Southport will have a huge impact on people who live in our town, as well as on local businesses.
“I have raised this matter with the Transport Minister, who has confirmed to me that Sefton Council was under no obligation to apply for funding through the Emergency Active Travel Fund – which was designed for towns which had a real need for an expansion in infrastructure for cycling.
“My office has been inundated with concerns regarding the consultation, highlighting the fact that the council had only targeted certain households with information flyers, rather than providing all those impacted with information on the plans.
“Many residents on the roads where the lanes are set to be added still don’t know of the plans, which is why I wrote to the council to ask that more time be given to collect feedback. The council responded to confirm that the deadline would be pushed-back to late July, and that they would review their communications strategy with a view to engaging with all those affected.
“Very serious concerns have been raised with me regarding many aspects of the proposals – concerns I share. One business I met with has estimated a loss of around 20% in footfall among their elderly customers due to the removal of parking bays.”
The Southport MP is inviting people to respond to the consultation within the new deadline to share their views. He added:
“The new cycle lanes in our town centre have been disastrous. Removing the pay and display bays along Hoghton Street not only costs the council £137,000 in lost revenue every year, but also costs businesses due to the resulting reduction in customer numbers.
“Southport is a tourist town which heavily relies on visitors to support our local economy. Our town attracted over nine million visitors in 2019, and through the very exciting proposals we are developing through the Southport Town Deal we plan to attract many more.
“It is madness therefore to consider plans which would make it much more difficult for families wanting to drive into Southport, especially as local businesses need all the customers they can get as we seek to rebuild from the devastation of the pandemic.
“We all know how busy the arterial roads into and out of Southport can get on a hot summer day – adding a major expansion in cycle lanes is a recipe for disaster. “I am resolutely against these cycle lane proposals. They will seriously undermine the good work we are doing in Southport, and shows a serious lack of joined-up thinking by Sefton Council.
“I would encourage people to submit their views via the consultation.”
To respond to the Sefton Council cycle lanes consultation please visit: https://yourseftonyoursay.sefton.gov.uk/yourstreets/