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Buses booted out of town centre

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Newbury high street is to become almost traffic-free from October, councillors have decided

BUSES will no longer travel through Newbury town centre upon the opening of the Parkway development in October.

West Berkshire Council rubber-stamped a number of significant changes to traffic flow through the town at a meeting of it's executive last night (Thursday), which included the removal of the taxi rank from the Market Place, the pedestrianisation time ending at 5pm instead of 6pm, and making the Park Way bridge two-way.

The move will see the town centre become almost traffic-free during the day, with only emergency vehicles, security vans and postal vans travelling through.

West Berkshire Council's portfolio holder for transport, David Betts (Con, Purley-on-Thames) said negotiations had taken place with representatives from taxi associations right up to the time of the executive meeting, such was the council's desire to make sure the changes were right for everyone.

“We will not be pleasing everybody at every point. If we tried to do that we would never get anything done. This is the best scheme going forward for the town centre,” he said.

The alterations were backed by the shadow transport executive member Roger Hunnemann (Lib Dem, Victoria), who said he was very pleased at the proposals.

He added: “I am glad to see a proper commitment to removing the buses and I also welcome the change to the pedestrianisation. I was aware of the issues raised by the taxi firms and am happy to see a number of new taxi points as some recompense.”

Mr Hunneman also called for a bus stop to be placed outside Newbury library, which Mr Betts said he would be happy to take back to traffic officers.

The changes have followed almost a year of talks with local organisations,including the Newbury Town Centre Partnership, Newbury Retail Association, the West Berkshire Disability Alliance and representatives of the local taxi associations and bus companies.

Under the proposals, private cars will no longer be able to use the Park Way bridge at all.

Any traffic would have to use the designated A339, with the bridge being for exclusive two-way use by buses, bicycles, taxis and emergency vehicles.

The change to the pedestrianisation zone end time means that taxis and cars will then be able to use the roads in Newbury town centre during the evening, as they can now.

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