Sheffield’s Pinstone Street closure comes under scrutiny from councillors – could a permanent decision be made soon?
“What was the rationale for closing a major city centre road to traffic”?
That’s the question that will be asked next week when councillors discuss the controversial blockade of Pinstone Street.
The road was closed in June last year to create space for social distancing. It was described as semi-permanent at the time but there’s been protests from businesses and passengers as 27 bus services were diverted.
Councillors are getting casework about buses being relocated and the challenges this places on city centre trade, vibrancy and accessibility.
Now a scrutiny board will be asked to consider “the rationale for the changes” – which should pave the way for a final decision to be made once and for all.
Council officer Matthew Reynolds says in a 4,000 word report that the barriers received a mixed reaction.
“Removal of motor traffic through this area has led to positive and negative reactions. There is recognition that the traffic-free area is beneficial for some, but access to bus services, particularly for older and disabled people, has required some adjustment.”
The council asked people’s views on the Connecting Sheffield city centre project – which includes Pinstone Street – and from more than 1,000 comments there were 63 per cent positive and 27 per cent negative.
Mr Reynolds added: “There was a clear recognition that Pinstone Street should be used as a more people friendly environment and the scheme would deliver this with the removal of the traffic, bringing greenery and improving safety.
“However, what was also clear was that the removal of bus services out of the core city centre would mean that bus users would have further to walk to certain facilities and this was specifically an issue identified by disabled groups.”
Politicians have been divided. Council leader Terry Fox said he wanted to “cut through every b****y gate” as the barriers gave out the message that the city centre was closed for business.
But Green councillor Douglas Johnson, Executive member for transport, is in favour of the street staying closed.
The scrutiny committee’s comments will be fed into the Executive which will make the final decision.