DRIVERS, shoppers, cyclists, and businesses were today recruited to redesign Blackburn’s hated central traffic system.
The borough council wants residents, traders and visitors to suggest improvements to the redeveloped heart of the town.
Regeneration boss Maureen Bateson has torn up the traffic planners’ blueprint so she can start with ‘a blank sheet’.
She wants ordinary users of the shopping centre, traders and business leaders to help create the new road map.
Her radical departure from normal council practice has been welcomed, with calls to scrap the inner ‘loop’ system, open up blocked-off cross-town streets, improve vehicle access to Blakey Moor and Simmons Street, and rethink the orbital road.
Blackburn Civic Voice secretary Simon Hugill said: “Many people come to the town to shop, get lost and never come back.”
Borough old people’s champion Brian Todd said: “There are too many blocked cross-town roads.
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“It’s too complex for visitors and very frustrating for locals.”
Chamber of Trade president Tony Duckworth said: “Everyone must take part.
“They need to open up the area around Simmons Street and Blakey Moor because at the moment bad access makes it impossible for shops to trade.”
Coun Bateson said: “We know many people don’t like the current town centre traffic system.
“There were things we had to do in order to accommodate the £400 million redevelopment of Blackburn since 2001.
“With proposed investment in the Cathedral Quarter, the new bus station and completion of the orbital route on Freckleton Street, now is the time to look at the whole system.
“Our road planners came up with ideas, but I wanted a blank sheet of paper to hear town centre users’ views before we begin drawing up new proposals.
“I want everyone to tell me what they don’t like and want changed.”
The consultation starts today and is scheduled to run for 12 weeks.
People can contact Blackburn with Darwen council by phone, facebook, letter or email.
Coun Bateson said: “Blackburn town centre has changed dramatically and new development sites include Blakey Moor, Tontine Street, Simmons Street and Watford Street.”
Mr Hugill said: “I want the ‘loop’ system reviewed and something done about the east of the orbital route.”
Mr Todd added: “There are too many blocked roads.
“It’s too difficult to get across town.”