Great Britain

Newcastle traffic bans set to be extended

A CRACKDOWN on car journeys looks set to be extended to more parts of Newcastle within weeks.

City transport bosses say that parts of Arthur’s Hill, Fenham, Heaton, and Jesmond could be made ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ (LTNs) this summer.

It comes after the controversial creation of LTNs last summer through the closure of five small bridges, in a bid to stop rat-running through residential streets.

The traffic bans have proved divisive, particularly the changes at Salters Bridge and Stoneyhurst Bridge in Gosforth.

While fans of the changes say they have created safer and cleaner spaces for cyclists and walkers, vocal opponents have complained that they have caused congestion on other roads and created problems for elderly and disabled people who rely on car travel.

Newcastle City Council is yet to reveal whether its first round of LTNs will be made permanent fixtures, with a series of decisions expected this summer, but is now set to press ahead with similar projects elsewhere.

Plans that will go before the authority’s cabinet next week state that LTNs will be “progressed imminently” in areas such as Arthur’s Hill, Fenham, Heaton and parts of Jesmond, with more to follow across the entire city over the next two years.

Exact locations of the proposed zones and how they would work have not been revealed, but it is expected that the first would be implemented this summer.

Like the first wave of LTNs, they would be introduced on an experimental basis for up to 18 months, with public consultation held in the first six, before a final decision is made on whether they are retained permanently, altered, or removed.

In addition, the council also plans to create new Play Streets this summer, in which residents can request to close streets at certain times so they can be used for children playing outside and other sociable activities.

Coun Ged Bell, the authority’s cabinet member for transport and neighbourhoods, said: “We are committed to making our city more family friendly – with safer neighbourhoods for children to play out and walk or cycle to school and a cleaner, greener and more welcoming city centre where people can enjoy spending time.

“Better connections through improved public transport, walking and cycling networks will provide alternatives to car journeys, which will also improve our environment and air quality.

“The proposals that will be considered by cabinet next week set out how we intend to achieve this change through a programme of investment in our city and neighbourhood areas.”

The council says that road traffic is responsible for around a third of Newcastle’s total carbon emissions, with cars accounting for 20% of the city’s total emissions.

But Coun Greg Stone, transport spokesman for the city’s Lib Dem opposition, said his party had “serious concerns” about the council’s ability to manage a vast array of proposed transport changes, which also includes a radical overhaul of the city centre.

He added: “Making local neighbourhoods and streets safer and healthier by reducing through traffic is a sound aspiration, and putting in place a transparent framework for introducing LTN measures is a welcome step. We are particularly pleased that more is being done to facilitate school streets, in line with our previous calls.

“The challenge on LTNs, as we have seen with bridge closures, is that there are often strong views for and against within affected communities. It would be sensible for the council to pilot this in areas where there is overwhelming  local support for these measures.”

The other three bridges closed in the initial round of LTNs were Castle Farm Road Bridge next to Jesmond Dene, Haldane Bridge in Jesmond, and the Argyle Street Bridge near Manors Metro station.

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