Council support to protect ‘jewel in Preston’s crown’

Petition: Guild Wheel co-creator Peter Ward (second left) presents petition to councillors
Petition: Guild Wheel co-creator Peter Ward (second left) presents petition to councillors
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Fears that developers are making a “major assault” on the safety of the Guild Wheel as they build hundreds of new homes around Preston have been calmed by all-party support from County Hall.

A campaign to safeguard the integrity of the 21-mile route around the city received unanimous support when a 10,000-name petition was presented to the county council.

The Guild Wheel is one of the jewels in the county council’s crown and it is vital we maintain its integrity.

Coun Geoff Driver

Co-creator Peter Ward, who has led opposition to new road junctions around the Wheel, was in the chamber to hear councillors from all sides vow to protect the circuit.

“It’s only been up for four years and they are already undermining it,” he said. “There are eight dangers - all road junctions - bringing more traffic on to the Guild Wheel.

“When, like us, you’ve spent 10 years building it and making it safe, it’s really upsetting. When we built it, it was safe, with no road junctions. So this is a major assault on the Guild Wheel and it needs protecting.”

Green Party councillor Gina Dowding presented a notice of motion to the county council calling for greater protection. She also urged the authority to involve cycle groups more in the future.

“I was concerned to learn that, just three years after completion, the integrity of the Preston Guild Wheel was considered as being under threat,” she said. “There has been a huge public response to this threat, with a petition signed by more than 10,600 people.”

Tory leader Coun Geoff Driver, a former Preston councillor, said: “The Guild Wheel is one of the jewels in the county council’s crown and it is vital we maintain its integrity.

“You only need to spoil a little bit of it to spoil all of it. If part of it becomes unsafe it won’t be used as it is at the moment.”

Lib-Dem leader Coun Bill Winlow added: “I pay tribute to the effort that Peter Ward has put into getting the thing going. But I am extremely worried about it, given the huge number of houses being built in north-west Preston at the moment.”

Council leader Coun Jennifer Mein said: “It is in all our interests that we protect the Guild Wheel. It is very highly thought of. I have been written to by many users and cycle groups from across the country and I have reassured them that we are doing all in our power to maintain the integrity of the Guild Wheel.”

Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transportation, added: “We are working with the cycle groups to improve (the Guild Wheel). It is a jewel in the crown.”