Reopening Sheffield city centre road to traffic 'could put city's transport funding at risk'
The Greens are ramping up the pressure to protect a newly-pedestrianised road in Sheffield city centre claiming political opponents want it reopened.
Martin Phipps, Green Party councillor for city ward, says Labour and the Lib Dems ‘have made it incredibly clear’ they want to reopen Pinstone Street.
But he warned the city’s entire transport funding could be at risk if it went ahead.
Pinstone Street was closed to traffic in June 2020 to allow social distancing. The move diverted 27 bus services to stops a quarter of a mile away, sparking ongoing protests from passengers.
Reopening the road is a red line for the Greens because of its impact on pollution, climate change, walking and cycling.
It will be considered at a Sheffield City Council scrutiny meeting on Thursday September 16.
Mr Phipps said: “Sheffield Council has declared a climate emergency, the latest IPCC report has been described as ‘code red for humanity’: this must be taken seriously.
“The closure has improved bus times, walking, cycling and air quality.
“It links with the proposed Connecting Sheffield schemes which have received a majority of public feedback and creates better bus, walking and cycling infrastructure.
“The additional space for cycling and walking on Pinstone Street outside the shops going down to Furnival Gate in particular are really well used and would be lost in reintroducing motor traffic.
“It would place our schemes at risk, it would place the bid for an electric FreeBee bus in Sheffield at risk, as this bid is built upon the Connecting Sheffield schemes, in fact our whole transport funding could be at risk by doing this.
“In Brighton and Hove, Labour joined with the Conservatives to vote for a cycle lane that was put in place under Emergency Active Travel Fund to be removed. In response the Government halted their funding.
“This is a cautionary tale for Sheffield. Do not make the same mistakes. We cannot go backwards and must move forward.”
Coun Terry Fox, the Labour city council leader, wants the road to reopen with half the number of buses as before, all of them electric.
Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Lib Dems, said: “We want accessibility for all. We want to see how the old and frail are still able to get around.
“Rerouting the buses has caused alarm and distress.”
The council asked people's views on the Connecting Sheffield city centre project - which includes Pinstone Street - and from more than 1,000 comments some 63 per cent positive and 27 per cent negative.
Sheffield City Council has pledged to be a ‘zero carbon’ city by 2030. It means no carbon is given off at all and is seen as substantially tougher than ‘net zero’ which is about cancelling out greenhouse gases by taking away the same or more than the carbon produced.
The authority’s website states: ‘The council has declared a climate emergency and is working towards Sheffield becoming a zero-carbon city by the end of the next decade and playing our full contribution to the Paris Climate Change agreements’.
The scrutiny committee's comments will be fed into the Executive which will make a final decision.