COUNCIL chiefs have refuted criticism of their plans to create new ‘pop up’ cycling and walking lanes - saying that they ‘make it easier and safer for people to visit town centre shops, workplaces and other facilities in Bootle and Southport by bike or on foot.’
Sefton Council, Liverpool City Region and MetroActive are working together to create new lanes, remove pay and display parking spaces and prevent through traffic to make it easier to navigate for cyclists and walkers.
Last week, the Champion revealed that Southport MP Damien Moore had slammed the plans for Southport town centre as ‘absolutely ridiculous’ amid fears they could have a ‘detrimental effect’ on businesses. The scheme is being paid for by government funds to encourage more cycling and walking, but he said that the traffic restrictions could put people off ‘venturing back’ at a time when businesses are trying to encourage more trade.
A Sefton Council spokesperson said: “In May, the Government announced its Emergency Active Travel Fund, and called for Councils to reallocate road space urgently to provide cycling and walking facilities.
“Working with Sefton Council, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority submitted a bid to the Government fund and was successful in securing funding for two schemes in Bootle and Southport Town Centre”
“These two schemes are based on key routes previously identified in the Liverpool City Region Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan and make it easier and safer for people to visit town centre shops, workplaces and other facilities in Bootle and Southport by bike or on foot.
“Because the Government stipulated Emergency Active Travel Fund schemes had to be started within four weeks and completed within eight weeks of the funding being approved, it was not possible to carry out a consultation in the way we normally would. However, all properties on the routes have been sent explanatory leaflets and more details are available at www.activetravelsefton.co.uk/emergencyroutes
“The Council will be monitoring the of the routes and keeping them under review over the coming months, so that we understand how we can improve them for people who walk and cycle.
“We are also currently undertaking a wider, interactive online consultation to identify other streets and locations which need changes made to make it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle and would encourage people to take part, Details of the consultation, which runs until Monday 31st August, can be found at https://seftonliveablestreets.commonplace.is
“During the coronavirus pandemic, Sefton Council suspended parking charges in Council car parks and on-street pay and display areas throughout the Borough, as well as making sure there were certain car parks available for key workers to use. NHS workers and social workers were also able to take advantage of free parking across the Borough
“Sefton Council faces significant funding shortfall as a result of the huge additional costs of supporting some of the Borough’s most vulnerable people and threatened organisations during the coronavirus and the loss of most its sources of income generation streams at the same time.
“Re-introducing payments for parking now is one of the ways can start to reduce that gap and generate income to support the services that local people rely on.”