02:54PM, Monday 21 September 2020
A call has been made for the Government to step in and review the controversial A4 bus lane scheme.
The temporary bus and cycle lane was created by Slough Borough Council after it secured £180,000 from the Department for Transport (DfT) to ‘support a green restart to local travel’ following the COVID-19 lockdown.
But the scheme, which cost £50,000 to implement, has attracted widespread criticism for causing long tailbacks through the town’s main arterial road.
The Slough Conservative Association has penned a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urging his department to intervene over the council’s use of the Government’s emergency travel fund.
Branch chairman Lee Pettman said: “We believe the local authority has implemented this scheme without considering the impact on residents, the town in general or the environment, and against the spirit of the intention for the funds to support social distancing measures.”
Mr Pettmann said the scheme has made journey times worse for drivers and residents should have been consulted before the six-month trial was enacted.
He labelled the lane ‘ahead of its time’ due to a limited number of buses running each hour and said it has not improved the ability to social distance along the A4.
“For the local authority to spend such vast sums of money on schemes that are an abuse of their intended use, is, we believe, an abuse of public funds,” he added.
In response Cllr Rob Anderson (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) cabinet member for transport said: “The Conservatives’ letter is way off mark, as the DfT themselves awarded the funding for this scheme, with the council setting out the detail of the temporary lanes through that process.
“We are aware the temporary lane has raised some concerns with the traveling public, it’s expected when road space is reduced, but the results of the trial are starting to speak for themselves – journey times along the A4 are less now than they where in 2018, air pollution is at its lowest levels since records began, more people from Slough suburbs are coming into the centre of Slough than pre-lockdown and we are about to launch a free electric bus service running the length of the A4 to allow residents a fast, reliable and environmental friendly way to travel to and from central Slough.”
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