PLANS to reduce traffic in a large area of Southport will cause huge damage to local businesses, warns the resort’s MP Damien Moore.
He is calling on Sefton Council to abandon its controversial plans to create a new ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ in an area which would impact hundreds of local residents and dozens of local businesses. The area affected spans from Lord Street in the West to Cemetery Road in the East with the Shakespeare Street area in the centre.
The aim is to redesign the neighbourhood in favour of walking and cycling over driving.
The ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ scheme, run by UK walking and cycling charity Sustrans, aims to encourage more people to make more short trips without the use of a vehicle.
Mr Moore said: “Sadly we are already seeing the devastation being caused by Sefton Council’s ill-conceived plans to create pop-up cycle lanes, remove parking spaces and shun traffic in the Hoghton Street and Queens Road area of Southport town centre.
“A number of businesses in these areas have contacted me to express their concerns over the serious damage these flawed plans are causing them.
“Now I am being contacted by several more business owners in the Shakespeare Street area to say they are baffled why the council would want to impose measures that would turn traffic and customers away from their part of town as well.
“After months of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses in Southport are in desperate need of support to help them to recover and to build back.
“To do that, Sefton Council should be supporting ways of helping people to drive and park near local shops, restaurants and other ventures.
“I have previously called for the council to suspend parking charges during the pandemic to help our business community.
“That is the type of measure that local people want to see, practical help that will make a real impact, not pie-in-the-sky schemes that will only damage trade and cost jobs and livelihoods.”
Ali Dore from Sustrans said: “Creating a Liveable Neighbourhood gives the potential for a vibrant, attractive area, which is safer and healthier for local residents, and good for the local economy too.
“This is a long term community engagement project which is very different from nationally funded emergency response measures for Covid-19. It means that designs are led by the community for the community to create change for future generations. In this first stage we are still gathering views and our designers wait for all feedback until they put pen to paper with local residents and businesses. Co-designed plans will only be trialled when the majority of the community is happy with them. Please do give your views via our Southport Liveable Neighbourhoods website (https://sln-sustrans-uk.hub.arcgis.com/) so we can help you design a neighbourhood that works for everyone.”
Sefton Council declined to comment.