The extension of cycling and walking lanes in Southport WILL go ahead in some form, Sefton Council has announced.
The council recently carried out its Southport Walking and Cycling Consultation with local residents to ask their views on proposals to add to the recent Southport town centre cycle lanes and extend them up to Ainsdale in one direction and up to The Plough roundabout in the other direction.
Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member – Locality Services, Cllr John Fairclough said that, in the fight against climate change, it is “the responsibility of all of us to engage with our residents and businesses about how we do this, not whether we do it.”
Over 4,000 responses were received, with people overwhelmingly rejecting every proposal that was put forward.
However, people did agree with some broad proposals: 70% agreed or strongly agreed that Sefton Council should act in local neighbourhoods to improve air quality and reduce pollution from vehicles; 64% agreed or strongly agreed that Sefton Council should act to reduce traffic noise; and 82% agreed or strongly agreed that Should Sefton Council should act to improve the safety of the roads.
The local authority said it was disappointed that over 70% of the responses to its consultation were from people over 50, with few responses from young people, business owners, or other groups.
Sefton is planning to carry out further consultation work in the coming months as it seeks to find a way forward for its scheme.
Asking a question at the full Sefton Council meeting, Southport councillor Mike Prendergast asked: “The Cabinet Member has recently received the report on the Southport Walking and Cycle Consultation. Does he believe that the proposals have secured broad public support as is required by the Department for Transport?”
Cllr Fairclough said ‘substantial’ changes must be made on Sefton’s roads to allow greener transport.
He said: “The offer letter to the Council required us to demonstrate that we had ‘consulted all key local stakeholders and obtained broad support’. It is not entirely clear what the Department for Transport meant by their phrase ‘broad support’ as this was never defined.
“I do believe that the consultations undertaken show strong support for action to Improve air quality, reduce pollution from vehicles, reduce traffic noise and traffic congestion, and improve the safety of the roads.
“I also believe that previous consultations have shown strong support for action to make cycling safer, increase the number of cycle routes and that more cycling would make neighbourhoods better places to live and work.
“I further believe that the Council must make substantial changes to our transport infrastructure, to enable cleaner greener transport, including better provision for walking and cycling, if we are to address Climate Change and the issues referred to above.”
Cllr Prendergast asked about the next steps, saying: “How many further such exercises does he think will be needed before the correct people give the correct responses?”
Cllr Fairclough said that the ways in which people travel within the area must change, with discussions now due to take place about the best ways of making that happen.
He said: “In 2019, the Council agreed a Climate Change Emergency Declaration.
“If we are to address Climate Change, and other issues such as traffic pollution, noise and congestion, to make our towns and neighbourhoods better, more sustainable places to live, we have to enable cleaner, greener transport.
“That requires substantial changes to our transport infrastructure now, including better provision for walking and cycling.
“It is therefore the responsibility of all of us to ensure a mature discussion about these issues and engage with our residents and businesses about how we do this, not whether we do it.
“This is about engaging with our communities, present and future, to find a way to provide the infrastructure needed by all our communities to create a more sustainable future.”