PLANS to ban cars from using the main road to Fareham town centre during rush hour have been blasted as absurd.
Hampshire County Council wants to make the western end of West Street – from the junction with Trinity Street to the train station – for buses, taxis and bikes only from 4pm to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
The move is linked to the start of the bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme between Fareham and Gosport – a new route along the old railway line – which is due to open next spring.
Cllr Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, criticised the plans.
He said: ‘This idea has come from nowhere. It hasn’t been discussed with the borough council at all and I can’t see the point of it.
‘That road is an essential artery through Fareham. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
‘If I had a shop in that area, I would be up in arms.’
The county council is seeking public opinion on the scheme, known as the Fareham Town Access Plan.
Written comments need to be submitted by January 1 or online by December 23.
Cllr Woodward added: ‘We expect to see an improved bus service tied in with the BRT, but not like this.
‘It’s quite absurd. I almost thought it was April the first.’
Julia Blencowe of Antiques of Fareham in West Street said: ‘High streets are dying and this isn’t going to help – passing trade is going to disappear from people driving past.
‘Trading here is hugely reliant on parking and access, but if you can’t get up and down the street, what can you do?
‘Nothing is made easy for us at this end of town as it is.’
Ewan Cameron of nearby Harvey Homebrew added: ‘It’s going to put a lot of people out of their way and it’s going to make an already chaotic situation even worse.’
Ian Hendon, of Gudgeheath Lane in Fareham, a retired bus driver, added: ‘It’s almost impossible to get from one side of Fareham to another as it is. The whole thing stinks.
‘It’s going to drive traffic into the side streets and make them more dangerous.
‘They are determined that this bus scheme is going to work, but if it is, it’s got to work on its own merits.’
Traffic lights at the junction of West and Trinity Streets would need to be altered.
It would initially be run as a trial and the impact on public transport, traffic, pedestrians and cyclists would be monitored and modifications be made as necessary.
A county council leaflet given out to businesses defends the rush-hour car ban.
It explains that buses heading west along West Street suffer significant delays because of the heavy traffic.
‘This disrupts connections between the bus and rail stations and makes changing between buses and train unreliable,’ it added.
The borough’s ruling executive will be discussing its response at its next meeting on January 9.
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