Sheffield red lines: plan ‘off the table’, councillor tells Abbeydale and Ecclesall Road businesses

A leading Sheffield Labour councillor has said that proposed red lines routes for bus lanes on Abbeydale and Ecclesall Roads are coming ‘off the table’ following consultations with worried businesses.
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Coun Mazher Iqbal, co-chair of the city council’s transport, regeneration and climate policy commitee, made the announcement after he met businesses at a meeting held in Marmaduke’s coffee house in Banner Cross on Monday night.

Coun Iqbal said that there were 50 to 60 businesses at the event, some of which have been running for more than 40 years, as well as new start-ups. He said businesses expressed their fears over proposals to improve bus times along those roads that could include 12-hour bus lanes with parking restrictions enforced by the use of red lines and traffic cameras.

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He said it was “heartbreaking” to hear that businesses fear it could be the final straw following the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

Sheffield councillor Mazher Iqbal, who says that red line zone plans for Ecclesall Road and Abbeydale Road have now been taken 'off the table'Sheffield councillor Mazher Iqbal, who says that red line zone plans for Ecclesall Road and Abbeydale Road have now been taken 'off the table'
Sheffield councillor Mazher Iqbal, who says that red line zone plans for Ecclesall Road and Abbeydale Road have now been taken 'off the table'

He said that he explained that the council has no overall control so Labour members work with LibDems and Greens on creating policies.

Coun Iqbal said that he agreed to take three aspects of the scheme, which also includes proposed changes to junctions and moving some bus stops, off the table and undertake more consultation.

Formal decision

The three items are 12-hour bus lanes, red line routes enforcing the bus lanes with cameras and parking restrictions.

The Banner Cross area of Ecclesall Road, one area of Sheffield where businesses were worried about the effect of proposed red line zonesThe Banner Cross area of Ecclesall Road, one area of Sheffield where businesses were worried about the effect of proposed red line zones
The Banner Cross area of Ecclesall Road, one area of Sheffield where businesses were worried about the effect of proposed red line zones
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He said that LibDem Ecclesall ward councillor Barbara Masters and the LibDem group spokesman on his committee, Coun Andy Sangar, were also at the meeting and Coun Sangar agreed that LibDems on the committee would support the proposal.

Coun Iqbal said: “I said to the businesses I will be as quick as I can making a formal decision taking the three items off the table and we want to work with you on the rest of the scheme.”

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He added: “It’s a decision locally, not like the Clean Air Zone where we’ve been instructed to do it (by central government). This is locally, it’s important we listen.”

He said that there had been consultation on the scheme but that it had been disrupted by the pandemic. He said a lot of businesses told him they hadn’t been aware of the proposals until neighbouring shops told them about it.

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“We’re supporting the businesses and hopefully they feel like they’ve been listened to. For me it’s about earning trust. If they feel they’ve not been consulted, not been involved, that relationship just gets worse and worse and worse.”

Bus priority

Coun Iqbal said that bus operators had requested traffic priority schemes but “the issue I have is that in other parts of the city we don’t even have a bus service.

“They can’t just be taking routes on an ad hoc basis – they need to be providing bus priority across the city, not just certain neighbourhoods. There are communities out there completely abandoned and rely heavily on the bus.”

He said that the work South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard is doing on taking buses back under public control will be key to ensuring that buses serve all communities properly.

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Coun Iqbal noted that the 83a service serving Ecclesall Road had been cancelled in bus service cuts made last autumn.