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"Do the right thing and give the town centre back to the people"

Opposition members urge council to reinstate permanent traffic ban

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper


01635 886632

"Do the right thing and give the town centre back to the people"

Opposition councillors are continuing their fight for a 24-hour traffic ban to be reinstated in Newbury town centre.

Vehicles were prohibited from driving along Northbrook Street and Market Place between June 1 and September 7 to make it easier for pedestrians to follow social distancing guidelines.

However, there have been calls by many to make it a permanent feature, with supporters saying that it would improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions in the town.

West Berkshire Council has so far resisted those calls and said it was only ever meant to be a temporary measure.

At a full council meeting on Thursday, September 10, Green Party councillor David Marsh put forward a motion and urged the Conservatives to “please do the right thing and give the town centre back to the people”.

Making his case, Mr Marsh said: “In summary, a 24-hour traffic-free zone in Newbury is good for business and popular with shoppers; it makes social distancing easier, and our town centre cleaner, healthier, safer and quieter, in line with Government policy on active travel and with our own environment strategy.

“I took some photographs on Monday just before and after the traffic returned.

“At 4.57pm, Northbrook Street was still fairly busy with shoppers, some with pushchairs, mainly socially distancing.

“Within four minutes, there was a queue of cars, engines running at the bridge, and everyone had fled to the pavement.

“It’s dangerous, as well as unhealthy, to facilitate a rat-run through the town centre at 5pm, when the shops are still open.

“Before long it will be dark by that time.

“How would members feel if a child were hit by a vehicle turning the blind corner into Mansion House Street this winter?

“The town council’s shoppers’ survey found that, with people who regularly visit the town centre, by far the most popular option was to keep the new arrangements.

“If you think about it, this is just common sense.

“Who in their right mind wants to sit outside Costa or Côte breathing in exhaust fumes with their cup of coffee or glass of wine?”

However, his hope that his motion would be debated was dashed after the council’s head of legal services, Sarah Clarke, informed him that members were unable to do so.

It was instead referred to the council’s Transport Advisory Group for consideration before going back to executive later this year.

Mr Marsh’s Green Party colleague, Carolyne Culver asked: “I was just wondering if you could explain for the benefit of members of the public why this motion won’t be debated this evening?”

To which Mrs Clarke replied: “The constitution sets out clearly how the council will deal with any motion and it basically states where matters relate to executive functions they must be referred to the executive without debate.

“Otherwise they can be referred to other relevant committees.

“The motion proposed by councillor Marsh is seeking, in effect, road closures in the district and these are matters that are firmly with the executive. 

“Therefore the council does not have authority this evening to pass a motion effectively closing highways.”

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Article comments

  • berkshireboy71


    29/09/2020 - 13:22

    there are good cyclists and there are bad cyclists, there are good drivers and there are bad drivers.there are good pedestrains, there are pedestrains who walk out in to the road with out looking and on mobile phones with huge headphones on, same on bikes. and then you got mobility scooters that race through the town. I am a cyclists and i ride into town with care and consideration for all. which i was trained has a cycle responder. newbury town been turning into a ghost town for years way before covid-19. the buses were banned due to a school boy was knocked over in 2009/10. more should be done about these cyclists who thinks it is great to ride through town at speed. and it is not just the lycra lot it is the youths too. so i think every-one at fault who do not watch where they are walking. or purposely, stand in the way of cyclists that are riding slow in a safe manner. even stepping in the road for no reason just to be idiots. o everyone forgot the joggers.


  • Crab Apple

    29/09/2020 - 07:16

    I think going by the comments below and also my feelings are Counsellor Marsh, you are clearly wasting your own breath. Most comments mention the nuisance cyclists who have no respect for pedestrians, absolutely true. Shops to trade efficiently and provide our needs require deliveries of stock so parking for drivers is essential at all times. I could go on but I do not wish to bore readers, but I will say one thing. I choose not to drink coffee or alcohol and even if I did I would not sit outside drinking it and defiantly not pay the prices that Costa or Côte charge for them. Give us back our town as it used to be.


  • From Luddite Lodge

    28/09/2020 - 15:04

    Shops need deliveries , lets compromise - make 6-10 a.m delivery time and pedestrianise - oh and ban ***** bikes , nearly had me a couple of times


  • newburywolf

    28/09/2020 - 13:36

    David Marsh, its not cars you need to worry about hitting children, its the cyclists who race through without any regard for pedestrians. With it open to traffic at least you know they are on the road and so you are safe on the footpath. But with it pedestrians only, you would think pedestrians don't have to be looking over their shoulder all the time, yet you do with the idiots in lycra who race through at 30km, passing inches from your shoulder without any care for children or the elderly. You only care about emissions, and not the safety of pedestrians.


    • Bartek_Bosko

      28/09/2020 - 16:02

      This doesn't stand up to scrutiny, does it! Between 2005 and 2018, 8.6% of the 5,835 pedestrian deaths in England, Scotland and Wales occurred on pavements. The majority (542) involved motor vehicles, with six pedestrian-cycle footway collisions. I would have to cycle at over 60mph to have the same kinetic impact as a small car travelling at 16mph. So, you're not safe on the footpath, but it isn't cyclists putting you in danger. Inactivity costs the NHS £1.8bn a year but the UK is prevented from investing in large scale active travel because of this type of nonsense - interestingly, safe protected cycle space will benefit children and the elderly the most but yes let's 'ban ***** bikes' because who wants to see children cycling to school and the old enjoying getting into town on their e-bike after all the bus services have shut down.


      • newburywolf

        28/09/2020 - 21:39

        Being hit by a man weighing 80kg riding a bike travelling at 30kph would be enough to smash bones of even a strong adult, or cripple them, never mind a child or elderly person. I was once hit by a cyclist who rode through a red stop light as I crossed on green walk, and after smashing into me all I got was vile abuse, trying to make out it was my fault. So typical of too many cyclists aggressive attitude towards pedestrians. I have worked with cyclists who come to work every morning swapping best times and how 'stupid' pedestrians got in their way and slowed them down. There are plenty of cases of cyclist killing pedestrians if you care to look. The trouble is cyclists are unregistered. I have seem them just ride off after hitting someone, often laughing. Cyclists should have to register and display a number so they can be traced. Unfortunately, the whole 'environment' argument is being used by cyclists to get the entire country turned into cycling racetracks.


        • Bartek_Bosko

          29/09/2020 - 13:41

          You are extrapolating anecdote as a basis for policy making, but I recognise you're not going to be reasoned out of a position that you did not use reason to get into. Of the approximately 400 pedestrian deaths each year, on average 2.5 involve a cyclist; Mavis on her upright shopper and kids getting to school don't ride at 18mph (that is quite a lick on a bike), we should be encouraging people on bikes not bleating on about lycra and jumping red lights.


    • From Luddite Lodge

      28/09/2020 - 15:06

      I would ban bikes all the time and allow deliveries only between 6 and 10.00 No cars, unless delivering


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