Residents tram crossing plea amid town hall safety fears

Public meeting over Anchorsholme tram crossing.
Public meeting over Anchorsholme tram crossing.

A PLEDGE has been made to try to keep the Anchorsholme track crossing open – so long as does not compromise the future of Blackpool’s £100m new tramway.

Following a tough grilling by residents who want the crossing at Lauderdale Avenue, to remain open, Blackpool Council chief executive Steve Weaver said transport bosses would look at all possible solutions.

But he warned safety had to be a priority if the new service was to be licensed by the Rail Regulator.

He told a public meeting at the Baptist Church on St George’s Avenue: “Our view, rightly or wrongly is that if the crossing were to remain open exactly as it is now, we would not get a licence to open the tramway and the trams would have to stop running.”

The increased frequency of the new service, which will operate every 10 minutes, means the viability of the junction has had to be looked at.

But he added there were possible options – either to introduce signals at a cost of around £400,000 – or to redesign the crossing and the signage.

Mr Weaver, who joined assistant director for transport John Donnellon at the meeting to answer residents’ concerns, added: “If we can find a solution which allows Lauderdale Avenue to remain open and that also allows the trams to run because they will be licensed to run, and because the operator will accept that, then we will do that.”

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for the crossing to remain open.

Last year, the then ruling Tory executive agreed the junction should be retained, but no action was taken and the contractors were not informed of the decision by members.

It is due back before the new Labour executive in September and will also be discussed at full council.

Residents fear they will be cut off from vital services, including a health centre if the crossing closes to vehicles, although pedestrian access is being maintained.

Val Bradford, of Conway Avenue, said: “You are not looking at it as residents.

“It is us you should be considering, not the speed of trams. There are only ever about two people on them at night, and that’s when they run every half hour.”

Frank Bilsborrow, of Kelso Avenue, said an Act of Parliament from 1896 proved the council had no legal right to shut the crossing.

He said: “Unless you sort this out there will be hundreds of people suing the council for lack of access.”

Anchorsholme ward councillor Tony Williams said: “What we are asking as a community is for you to try to find a way of keeping the crossing open that is safe, cost effective and good for everyone.”