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Crunch decision due on traffic proposals



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West Berkshire Council's executive will meet tonight to discuss plans for a traffic-free Newbury town centre

THE sight of packed buses making their way through Newbury town centre could be consigned to history tonight (Thursday) as a crunch decision is made on changes to the traffic flow through the town.

West Berkshire Council's Executive are expected to rubber stamp a number of significant town centre traffic management modifications, including kicking out the buses, and making the Park Way bridge two-way.

The move, following almost a year of talks with local organisations, will create a virtually traffic-free environment during the day, with access only for emergency vehicles, security vans and postal services.

Over the last 11 months, consultations have taken place with groups including the Newbury Town Centre Partnership, Newbury Retail Association, the West Berkshire Disability Alliance and representatives of the local taxi associations and bus companies.

The feedback will be debated at the meeting, and if the changes are approved, they would be introduced to coincide with the opening of the new Parkway scheme scheduled for October 2011.

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 town's rising bollards will remain in place under the plans, but the pedestrian zone end time will change from 6pm to 5pm, meaning that taxis and cars will then be able to use the roads in Newbury town centre during the evening, as they can now.

The West Berkshire Council executive member for Highways and Transport, David Betts (Con, Purley-on-Thames), thanked the local groups for their in-put.

“We have considered all of the suggestions and I feel that we have a good scheme that takes account of the needs of transport operators and will make the town centre even more attractive to shoppers and visitors,” he said.

During a meeting of the Newbury Retail Association on Tuesday, district councillor Roger Hunneman (Lib Dem, Victoria) said: “We campaigned very strongly to get the buses out and we are glad they are going.

“Opening the route for traffic at 5pm will go a long way towards alleviating traffic jams in the evenings,” he added.



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