‘Hidden agenda’ at tram crossing

Coun Tony Williams and coun Paul Galley at the Kelso tram crossing in Cleveleys
Coun Tony Williams and coun Paul Galley at the Kelso tram crossing in Cleveleys

THERE are fears a well-used tram crossing could close after all – despite protesters believing they had won the battle to keep it open.

In July, members of Blackpool Council’s executive committee agreed to save the crossing at the junction of Blandford Avenue and Lauderdale Avenue in Anchorsholme from closure, after nearly 160 residents signed a petition protesting at plans to close it off.

But it is now claimed the decision was not passed onto contractor Bam Nuttall and the crossing will close after all.

Blackpool Council has denied the claim and says the intersection is only being closed temporarily while work is carried out on the new tramway.

However Anchorsholme ward councillors Tony Williams and Paul Galley have accused transport chiefs of having a “hidden agenda” and not playing straight with residents.

Coun Williams told The Gazette: “I’ve always had my suspicions there was never any intention by the council officers to abide by this decision as subsequent inquiries regarding the closure from both Coun Galley and I, and also from local concerned residents, have been answered with vague statements.

“I have now just recently discovered the tram upgrade contractor Bam Nuttall has never been instructed to keep this crossing open but were being allowed without intervention to continue with the original plan to close the way through.

“I believe there is a hidden agenda here and council officers will now try to persuade the new Labour executive to close the crossing on safety grounds but safety issues were all discussed last July.”

Coun Galley said: “We will fight for the rights and needs of the people of Anchorsholme and we will not let this issue go without demanding some answers.”

Officers had recommended the crossing close as part of the £100m upgrade of the tramway.

Four other crossings are also being closed as part of changes aimed at speeding up tram journeys.

But residents feared the measure would cut them off from community facilities with traffic having to use either the Anchorsholme Lane or Victoria Square crossings instead.

The council said as far as they were concerned contractor BAM Nuttall has been instructed to go ahead with the closure.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for streets and transport, said: “In July last year a decision was made to keep the crossing at Lauderdale Avenue open for residents.

“This decision still stands. In order to allow contractors working on the tram track to complete their work safely there is currently a temporary closure of the crossing in place.

“The crossing will be reopened as soon as work is competed.”