12:15PM, Wednesday 22 July 2020
A Conservative councillor has warned the economic viability of Slough will be under threat if the council continues with its temporary bus and cycle lane on the A4.
Councillors clashed over the controversial trial scheme, which has been introduced from the Huntercombe Spur to Uxbridge Road, during a full council meeting last night (Tuesday).
The Tory group called on the council to allow zero-emission private hire vehicles to use the town centre bus lane in order to reduce traffic congestion.
Cllr Dexter Smith (Con, Colnbrook with Poyle) said: “This is the wrong thing to be doing at the moment with our principal transport corridor.
“It’s seriously damaging the economic viability of our town to go ahead with the scheme as it is.
“By reducing the capacity of our busiest roads, the most important internal road in our town, by up to 50 per cent on the bits where the bus lanes are introduced on dual carriageways, is potentially going to cause chaos.”
Conservative Group leader, Cllr Wayne Strutton, added that ‘a number of children’ with special educational needs travelled to school in private hire vehicles and needed to be able to use the temporary lanes.
Cllr Rob Anderson (Lab, Britwell and Northborough), cabinet member for sustainable transport and environmental services, said allowing private hire vehicles to use the bus lanes would ‘defeat the object’ of trying to improve air quality.
He said the council is working on a scheme to allow electric vehicles to use the lanes but this was dependent on the Government making Green Number Plates available for alternatively fuelled cars in October.
Council leader James Swindlehurst told the meeting: “We all understand that reducing the road capacity for cars will cause some elements of inconvenience.
“But traffic movements on our roads are still about half what they were before COVID-19, journey times in and out the town centre are significantly less than what they were when traffic was at its full levels before COVID-19.”
He added: “People have learnt to change behaviour and use their cars for fewer journeys than they used to.
“If they just simply step out of their cars for some of their short journey’s, their life doesn’t have to change significantly but we can all live in a better quality environment.”
Labour councillors voted against the motion calling for private hire vehicles to be able to use Slough’s bus lanes but agreed work will continue on the possibility of electric cars being incorporated into the scheme.
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