Sheffield businessman worried over chance of council U-turn on red line routes plan
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Nasar Raoof is postmaster in Banner Cross on Ecclesall Road. Independent businesses on Eccesall and Abbeydale Roads have expressed their worries over plans to improve bus travel times.
The plans put forward by Sheffield City Council include improvements to junctions and red line routes policed by automatic number plate recognition technology. The proposals also feature 12-hour bus lanes that would stop anyone parking near to shops.
That provoked an outcry from independent traders, who objected that if customers were unable to park nearby it would seriously threaten their trade or close them down completely. A decision is expected in June.
Mr Raoof is concerned that promises made by the council Labour group that it no longer supported red lines, 12-hour bus lanes and parking changes will be overturned following the council elections as the fallout continues from the street trees scandal and unpopular policies that have undermined trust in the council.
Coun Mazher Iqbal, who was co-chair of the city council’s transport, regeneration and climate policy committee, said in March that all three aspects were ‘off the table’ after meeting businesses to hear their concerns.
LibDem councillors also said they are opposed to those parts of the scheme.
Today’s (May 17) council annual meeting will decide who chairs policy committees as well as who leads the council. The council remains under no overall control following the May 4 elections and talks have been going on between Labour, the LibDems and Greens over power sharing.
Labour councillors have elected Coun Tom Hunt as their new leader but LibDem leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed is challenging him for the council leader’s role. The Greens say Coun Hunt does not have a strong mandate and are calling for a leader from one party group and co-deputy leaders from the other two parties.
Mr Raoof said that the changing political situation has given rise to his concerns.
“Promises were made by the Labour group and Mazher Iqbal and also there were some promises made by Liberal Democrats on the issues of red lines, 12-hour bus lanes and no changes to parking. These were the criteria set by businesses.
“Now the elections are over we want clarification.”
He added: “The uncertainty has come again. What I want as a business owner is urgent clarification on this topic and for it to be on the agenda of the next transport committee meeting.”
Mr Raoof says he fears his post office may have to close and says that will also have an impact on his elderly and vulnerable customers.
He said he urged people to vote LibDem in Ecclesall and Labour in Nether Edge in the election because he felt that was the best way to ensure that the promises the parties made would be kept.
“We need some clarity urgently and we’re not getting it because Labour is in special measures,” he added.