'Senseless' Penwortham street revamp will put 'schoolkids right in path of speeding drivers'

Residents have blasted plans to revamp a busy street in Penwortham – warning that the changes will worsen speeding and could put children at risk while waiting to catch the bus to school.

Lancashire County Council is poised to start work on a series of changes to Leyland Road, which have been further condemned by locals who will be left unable to park outside their homes as a result of the redesign. The overhaul will see bus stops relocated and reduced in number, while double yellow lines will be introduced on the stretch of the route between The Cawsey roundabout and the former Sumpter Horse pub, near Castle Fold.

The four bus boarding points currently in operation will be cut to two – one in each direction – and moved to a central location. Parking will be prohibited at any time southbound, with the same restriction also applying along much of the northbound side of the road. The authority says the measures will prevent “inappropriate [and] obstructive parking” – and so improve highway safety for both motorists and pedestrians.

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The changes were given the go-ahead by cabinet members in September last year following a public consultation in which all 18 respondents objected – many of whom cited the loss of parking as the main issue and called for the work to be put on hold at least until new parking spaces planned as part of the redevelopment of the Sumpter Horse site had been delivered.

One local has now told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that the combined effect of the new arrangements will not even have the desired effect of making the road safer.

“The traffic [will be able] to go faster because there will be no parking,” said Dawn, who did not want to give her full name. “I know of five serious accidents down here in the past 12 years and [they have] all been [due to] speeding and drunk drivers – nothing to do with people parking outside their house.

“They’re also going to move the bus stop that has a lay-by [nearest the roundabout]…to in front of an electricity substation down the road, [where the pavement] is about a metre-and-a-half wide.

“That makes no sense to me, [because] you get lots of children waiting at that stop of a morning [for] the school bus. It’s a nice wide place [and] not in the way of anything. The thought of having 10 to 15 schoolkids standing [in the new location] while traffic can go faster [is frightening].

“The two new stops are also practically opposite each other. So if you’ve got two buses [stopped at each at the same time]…the entire road’s going to get blocked, including to emergency vehicles,” Dawn added.

She said residents simply wanted highways bosses to come down and meet them in person so that they could point out what they see as the shortcomings of the scheme. Dawn also said many locals had been unaware of the public consultation, because the notifications sent to households in the area “looked like junk mail”.

In response to the issues raised, a Lancashire County Council spokesperson told the LDRS: “We consulted on the changes due to be made to bus stops and parking on Leyland Road in June 2023 – and all responses received were outlined and addressed in a report to cabinet for a decision in September 2023.

“The main focus of these changes is to address issues with unsafe parking which often blocks the narrow pavements in this area and obstructs the flow of traffic, which particularly impacts bus services and affects people’s journeys at peak times.

“The revised positioning of the stops is intended to minimise the impact on availability to residential on-street parking on the west side of Leyland Road, with the existing layby also due to be converted to allow parking.

“All the stops are considered to have enough space to cater for a number of people to wait – and that repositioning them will help to balance the number of people accessing any one stop by making the stops south of The Cawsey accessible for people from the new housing developments in the area.

“The occasions when buses travelling in opposite directions are using both stops will have minimal impact compared with the current situation with parked vehicles causing a bottleneck throughout the day.”