A controversial proposal to reintroduce traffic penalty cameras on Preston’s main shopping street has been shelved - while other plans are prepared to try and solve the city’s traffic problems.
The congestion “cure” of re-introducing camera enforcement on the bus only lanes on Fishergate from September, plus a motion making the trial lanes permanent, were due for consideration at yesterday’s meeting of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet.
A report to councillors revealed that since camera enforcement was halted in March and April thousands of city motorists had driven along the bus only lanes.
The halt to camera enforcement came after a Traffic Penalty Tribunal ruled in March that the traffic changes were inadequately signposted.
Since then 45,596 drivers have used the bus lanes - on average 600 vehicles a day.
But announcing the plans to make the bus lane changes permanent and use the cameras again were being put on hold, cabinet member County Coun Keith Iddon told councillors: “I recognise there’s ongoing concern about traffic movement in Preston, especially around Avenham and it’s been brought forward that we do a scheme in Lune Street to make it two-way and a proposal is going to be brought.
“But because of these concerns and the concerns of Coun (Yousuf) Motala and residents I am proposing to defer a decision until the Lune Street project comes forward.”
The news was welcomed by County Coun John Fillis who said: “I very much welcome this decision. Thank you for listening and working with the local community.”
The report to councillors noted that to address concerns about St George’s Shopping Centre car park and reduce the volume of traffic travelling through the Avenham area: “It may be feasible to make Lune Street two way and it is considered that there is merit in exploring this option in more detail.”
The proposal includes a new link on to Ringway, allowing what are described as “left in” and “left out” movements from Lune Street.
It is recognised such a change would require more changes to current traffic arrangements.
The report to councillors outlined the impact of the bus only rule, noting improvements in air quality, road safety and visitor experience.
It said pollutants in the air had reduced by more than 50%. Some 2,700 vehicles daily were removed from Fishergate during the hours the bus lane operates, congestion was reduced and there were delays in exiting both the Fishergate shopping centre and the railway station car parks.
But traffic had been displaced onto Avenham Lane and Queen Street and there had been increased congestion and delays along Ringway. This had increased journey times for residents and workers in the Winckley Square and Avenham areas.
•The traffic cameras on Fishergate were first switched on last November. A temporary traffic regulation order created a bus only lane westbound on Fishergate between Mount Street and Corporation Street and an eastbound bus lane between Butler Street and Corporation Street from October during certain hours.
But thousands of motorists were fined for driving down the banned highway and there was an outcry. Camera enforcement was suspended after the Traffic Penalty Tribunal ruled on March 9 and 31 that the changes had been inadequately signposted and the council offered to refund fines.
The latest proposals included the erection of new signs on Fishergate, Fox Street, Lune Street, Chapel Street and Butler Street.
•Photo shows Traffic Penalty Tribunal adjudicator Stephen Knapp taking a look at the signage on Fishergate.