Traders to keep '˜close eye' on traffic in festive build-up

Business leaders have given a cautious amber light to new measures aimed at reducing congestion in Preston.
Traffic bottleneck on FishergateTraffic bottleneck on Fishergate
Traffic bottleneck on Fishergate

But a group representing more than 800 city centre firms has told council chiefs: “We will be keeping a very close eye on what happens in the build-up to Christmas.”

Retailers, pubs and restaurants are approaching their busiest time amid fears of a return to the chronic traffic problems which have marred the festive period for the past two years.

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“We will be watching,” said Mark Whittle, manager of Preston Business Improvement District (BID).

“We will also be listening to what businesses are telling us about whether they think the new traffic arrangements are working successfully or not.

“It would make no sense to have a traffic system that cannot handle the anticipated numbers of people coming into Preston city centre during the Christmas period.”

Lancashire County Council is introducing tough new measures for Fishergate’s shared space scheme which will involve new bus lanes and cameras to catch drivers who break the rules.

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The new system will come into force next Monday with fines of £60 being dished out to motorists who ignore “no right turn” signs at the top of Butler Street to cross over into Corporation Street.

More signs will be installed to remind drivers that they risk being caught on camera if they continue to flout the regulations. A survey has revealed that one in four drivers have been turning right.

Fishergate will also have a bus/taxi lane coming down towards the railway station from 11am to 6pm in an attempt to ease the flow of traffic.

Preston BID, which in recent months has called for the return of traffic lights along the city’s main shopping street, says the bottlenecks have had an impact on businesses.

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“If these new measures avoid standing traffic in the city centre then they are working,” added Mark Whittle. “But if businesses experience a decline in trade in the build-up to Christmas then they clearly haven’t. It is our job to monitor what is going on and speak to the business community. It is obviously in everyone’s interests that we have a successful and vibrant city centre.”