Councillors debate Sheffield’s Pinstone Street for hours – but still no decision made
Councillors spent hours debating whether Pinstone Street should reopen to traffic but there is still no firm steer as to what will happen next.
The major city centre road was closed last June for social distancing but now restrictions have eased, the council needs to decide whether to keep it closed permanently or reopen it.
A scrutiny board debated the issue and while it doesn’t have any power, it does seem to be the first step towards a final decision being made.
During a discussion lasting four hours, councillors discussed electric buses, alternative routes and access for disabled people.
Coun Bryan Lodge said: “What is the point of a city centre circular bus, free or otherwise, electric, hydrogen, low ultra low emission vehicle, if he’s not going to get people to where they want?
“Everybody wants to see a thriving fantastic city centre which brings people in, and if we can do that, fantastic.
“But there’s no point investing millions in the heart of the city, and creating commercial, creative and retail facilities if people can’t get to them. We’re creating an island where nobody can get to.”
Coun Dawn Dale and Coun Dianne Hurst questioned a council consultation of 1,000 people last November and December.
Coun Dale said: “As we’ve gone on today, I’ve become less confident that this has been well thought through and that enough consultation has gone on
“What I keep hearing is, we’re still considering this and we’re still thinking about that. The messaging is not clear.”
Coun Mick Rooney asked whether passengers of the 36 diverted bus services had been asked their opinion.
And Coun Dianne Hurst said: “We have conflated lots of initiatives here with very little solid planning behind them.
“I don’t think you talked to a very representative range of people, I would like to see a wider consultation.
“It seems we have this ambition to create a gated community in the city centre for the benefit of 20,000 people, but a lot of the 530,000 people that live in Sheffield use buses.”
Coun Douglas Johnson, Executive member for transport, is in favour of keeping Pinstone Street closed.
He said: “The challenge is to work out how to come up with a design that improves accessibility, improves bus stops and at the same time improves the opportunities for walking.
“We can get an awful lot of those improvements if we go ahead, which we’re simply going to have to abandon if you want to reverse the scheme.
“The buses are much faster and serving more places and if you want to undo that then you’re going to set busses back.
“We all say that we want to support busses and this is the chance to put in all that new infrastructure.
“We have to acknowledge the reallocation of road space and it’s about making this scheme work as a coherent whole.”