Drivers face a no-go zone

ndet 98400 Chesterfield Town Centre Taxi Route. Soresby Street.
ndet 98400 Chesterfield Town Centre Taxi Route. Soresby Street.

TAXI drivers fear planned no-go traffic zone restrictions around the centre of Chesterfield could destroy trade and kill the town.

Derbyshire County Council is aiming to ban vehicles on all roads within Soresby Street and Glumangate’s southern junctions with Rose Hill and High Street’s junction with Market Place and introduce restrictions on stretches of West Bars.

The plan includes no stopping on a stretch of West Bars except for taxis during 7pm to 7am and no stopping on another stretch where taxis will be allowed to stop any time.

But David Hopton, Chesterfield Hackney Owners and Drivers Association chairman, believes shoppers will not be able to get taxis in the centre and will keep away and the planned West Bars taxi rank will lose out because it is out of sight for evening revellers.

He said: “When we’re trying to regenerate the town these restrictions seven days a week are going to kill the town and many traders and disabled groups feel the same.

“An evening taxi rank is no good for the day trade and because nothing happens down that side of town during the evening the council might as well put us on Beeley Moor.”

Mr Hopton urged the local authority to walk round the town and gather views of traders and disabled residents.

He argued the county council’s highway restrictions would damage Chesterfield Borough Council’s regeneration plan including its £4.5m Market Hall revamp and its bid to be a Portas Pilot town.

The county council told Mr Hopton it is concerned about the increasing number of vehicles using the area and it wants to improve safety and the environment for shoppers.

Proposed changes round the Market Place include exceptions for loading and disabled badge holders between 4pm and 10am and they will allow waiting and loading in a lay-by north of the Market Place.

The plan includes changes along different stretches of West Bars including disabled badge holder parking places, no waiting times, a loading bay from 7am to 7pm and a none loading area.

A county council spokesman said: “We’ve drawn up plans to pedestrianise more of Chesterfield town centre to improve safety for pedestrians.

“A public consultation about the plans for West Bars ended on 30 March. The closing date for sending in comments about plans for Glumangate, Soresby Street, High Street and New Square is Friday 13 April.

“We’ll consider all the responses we receive and take all comments into consideration before taking a report back to the cabinet member for environmental services to consider on a date to be set.”

Chesterfield Borough Council has already made representations to Derbyshire County Council that it does not want to see the number of hackney ranks reduced in Chesterfield town centre.

It also stated that it relies on the Hackney trade negotiating with the county council highway authority as to where the ranks should be sited.

Officers from the borough council have a scheduled meeting with the Hackney trade on April 17 to which representatives from the county council have been invited.

A borough council spokesman said: “At that meeting we hope to be able to assist the Hackney trade and the county council in coming to a mutually beneficial arrangement.”