Call for rethink over controversial bus gate in Sheffield city centre

Steve Wilkinson in front of the Glossop Road bus gate
Steve Wilkinson in front of the Glossop Road bus gate
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A controversial bus gate in Sheffield city centre must be reviewed, say campaigners, after a fine was successfully appealed.

The restrictions in place on Glossop Road, where motorists are banned from driving westbound between Regent Street and Gell Street on weekdays between 4pm and 6.30pm, has long been a source of contention.

The Glossop Road bus gate in operation during the evening rush hour

The Glossop Road bus gate in operation during the evening rush hour

Critics argue that the signs and road markings in place are confusing, and have cost businesses custom and created unnecessary delays for city centre residents by diverting them down what they refer to as the 'Portobello hairpin'.

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But Sheffield Council insists the restrictions are clearly indicated and are needed to prevent buses and trams getting stuck in peak hour traffic.

Steve Wilkinson, who owns Spa 1877 off Glossop Road, successfully appealed against a fine and claims the ruling shows a rethink is needed.

Having been caught on camera passing the bus gate before turning immediately left down Cavendish Street, he successfully argued that he had forgotten he was travelling during restricted hours and his actions had no caused any disruption.

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An adjudicator for the Traffic Penalty Tribunal ruled that given Mr Wilkinson claimed to have made an honest mistake and had only driven in the restricted area for a matter of seconds, it 'cannot sensibly be said that the contravention occurred'.

However, he made it clear his findings did not set a precedent and 'if the circumstances were different the outcome may not be the same'.

Mr Wilkinson said: "The council needs to show some common sense and review the way the bus gates operate. The people who live and work along that stretch should be able to use the left turn into Cavendish Street because they're not holding up any traffic in doing so."

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Peter Sephton, chairman of Sheffield City Centre Residents' Action Group (SCCRAG) claimed residents had not been adequately consulted about the scheme, which he said had been 'badly designed and poorly executed'.

He said the group had complained to the Local Government Ombudsman, which is investigating.

"Our argument is that going through the first of the two gates then turning immediately left onto Cavendish Street to access premises has no impact on public transport, therefore resident access should be permitted," he added.

"The Traffic Penalty Tribunal decision seems to uphold this view. But the city council adopts its usual belligerent stance and makes life difficult for residents and local businesses with repeated versions of 'no'."

More than 3,000 fines were issued along that stretch during 2015 but the number has since fallen, with 1,275 issued over the 12 months to the end of April this year - about five a day, when you take into account the restrictions only apply on weekdays.

A council spokesman said it believes the restrictions are working as they are, and that the successful appeal did not change anything.

"The bus gate restriction is both valid and enforceable and we would remind drivers that anyone who contravenes the restriction is likely to receive a penalty," he added.