A ROW has broken out over a council’s decision to drop their own public consultation into pedestrianising a key town centre site.
Former Hyndburn mayor Malcolm Pritchard has slammed Hyndburn Council after discovering the authority will not hold talks with traders and residents over proposals for Blackburn Road in Accrington town centre.
However council leader Miles Parkinson said it would be ‘silly’ to hold a separate consultation when the county council’s highways team will do so as standard practice.
Though Hyndburn Council had initially agreed Coun Pritchard’s lobbying for a consultation exercise, they have since made a U-turn. Coun Parkinson said that on investigation, the idea would simply ‘duplicate workloads’.
However, Coun Pritchard, a county councillor for Accrington North said he feared plans to Close off Blackburn Road and fully pedestrianise the area in front of Accrington Town Hall would be ‘steam rollered’ through by the borough council.
He said: “My fear is that they have made up their minds about making it a pedestrianised square. They have already put in a Heritage Lottery Bid for the plans. Many people feel this plan, rather than opening up the route, will cut off traffic to certain shops. The traders feel totally left out of everything when I speak to them.
“It doesn’t matter that the county council is the highways authority. If Hyndburn Council are putting these plans into effect, then they are the ones who need to be speaking to people about it.” Lisa Milburn, owner of Blackburn Road’s Extreme Designer Wear, said she and neighbouring businesses would be calling for more meetings with the council.
She said: “Most customers coming from out of town have absolutely no idea how to get to this part of town because there are dead ends everywhere.
“Traders do need to speak to those behind these plans. Leaving it to Lancashire County Council is silly because they don’t live here.”
Coun Parkinson however said the decision was efficient. He said: “The county are the highways authority - it is their role to do this.
“It would be silly for the district council to duplicate something that is already being done. Everyone will be consulted on the plans, not just Blackburn Road but changes to the town centre as a whole.”