Senior councillors on opposite sides of the city centre barricades

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Sheffield’s transport chief is not as enthusiastic as the Leader of the Council about sawing through “every bloody gate” in the city centre.

Labour Council Leader Terry Fox surprised people when he said he wanted to dismantle the concrete blockades which have been placed around the city centre.

The council had consulted on making the barriers permanent, but they block bus routes which has prompted complaints from passengers.

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Coun Fox told full council: “If I could get a saw I would go and cut every bloody gate on Pinstone Street, Leopold Street and Surrey Street.

Douglas JohnsonDouglas Johnson
Douglas Johnson

“I would like to investigate every opportunity for opening up that city centre. The one plea is that if we are getting buses and people in the city centre, we get them to where they want to go.”

But Green councillor Douglas Johnson, Executive member for transport and environment, said people had very much welcomed “the cleaner and safer atmosphere” of open streets to walk and cycle along.

“A lot of the temporary measures were put in very rapidly and I have asked officers to do what they can to replace some of the plastic bollards with more decorative planters and to remove unnecessary clutter that is blocking the very cycle lanes and walking routes they are set up to create.

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“I also think the big concrete blocks and steel gates are an eyesore and hope to see a new plan to work out how the city centre should look.

“However, their purpose – to physically close streets to motor traffic – is important. Very few people want to see a return to a constant stream of vehicles passing along Pinstone Street or Division Street.

“This is a real opportunity to support independent businesses by making the environment much more pleasant to be in.

“The other really important benefit from these changes is buses running far better. The time taken for a bus to get through town has improved enormously and the place where people feel the benefit is at the ends of the routes, where there is far less bunching of buses – the one thing that really annoys people.”