More than 250 warning letters have been sent to drivers caught out by a ‘confusing’ new tram gate in Sheffield city centre in a matter of weeks, it has emerged.
The tram gate on Glossop Road was recently moved three blocks to the east from Gell Street to the Regent Street junction, as part of changes to the University of Sheffield’s campus.
Drivers are banned from using that stretch of road between the hours of 4pm and 6.30pm, but it seems the new layout and signage have proved baffling for many motorists.
Sheffield City Centre Residents Action Group (SCCRAG) submitted a Freedom of Information Act to Sheffield Council, which revealed 268 warning letters had been issued in around two months to drivers flouting the new restrictions since a camera at the tram gate was switched on before Christmas.
The group said fines were not yet being issued during the ‘bedding-in’ period but if they were drivers would be shelling out tens of thousands of pounds a year.
SCCRAG chairman Peter Sephton told a meeting of the group last night how the green road markings were confusing many drivers who assumed the road was permanently barred to cars. He said one business estimated it was losing £1,000 a week in revenue.
Others told how visitors to the city had been so confused they had ended up driving round in circles before phoning in desperation for advice.
Mr Sephton said the group had suggested a raft of measures to iron out the problems, all of which were rejected by the council.
“By taking a number of very simple, inexpensive measures the council could reduce the harmful effects of these changes on residents and businses, but it has steadfastly rejected all our requests,” he said.
The meeting heard how the changes were made in conjunction with the pedestrianisation of Leavygreave Road, outside the university's Diamond building.
Mr Sephton said this had created what he described as a 'Portobello hairpin' used by drivers to avoid entering the tram lane, which was causing major congestion.
Concerns were also raised at Tuesday evening's meeting about the proliferation of off-licences on West Street, where a sixth was recently granted permission to open.
Mr Sephton said the council should consider introducing what is known as a 'Cumulative Impact Policy' for the area, which would make it harder for more off-licences to open there in future.