Torbay Labour Councillor, Darren Cowell, has called for there to be a discussion about the future of buses using Fleet Street in Torquay, which is part of his ward.
Cllr Cowell said: “There has been a debate about Fleet Street from the day it first opened. Personally, I have always felt the design was wrong and was very much in the camp that supported regeneration of the old Swan Street and George Street, but that was not to be.
“With the process of the Neighbourhood Plan well underway, and the key focus on town centre regeneration, it would be nonsense not to consider if Fleet Street should be fully pedestrianised or shared with buses.
“I am aware that Stagecoach has expressed reservations in the past, but we are now looking to the future. Is it right that we continue with buses using the street if it is having a negative impact on retailers?
“Opponents of a refreshed debate will argue that a referendum will need to be held to reverse the decision made in a previous poll in the late 1990s. This argument is defunct as the Neighbourhood Plan has to be voted upon in a referendum and even if a separate poll was to be carried out asking the specific question – the two polls can be held at the same time.
“Whenever I mention the prospects of reopening the debate I hear noises of concerns that the bus operators will resort to judicial review. That would be their choice. I would urge that as a business they engage in the process and attend regeneration meetings as they are part of the local economy.
“I anticipate that the BID and Town Centre Company will be a considerable contributor to the Town Centre Focus Group as well as the Torquay Town Community Partnership. It will be the perfect forum for Stagecoach to be a leading participant.
“As for any legal threats I would much rather all parties engaged in sensible grown up debate rather than resorted to expensive lawyers.
“The debate should be supported by the local Tory council as it is a central plank of their government’s so-called ‘localism’ agenda.”
• The next meeting of the Torquay Neighbourhood Forum is on May 14 at Torquay Yacht Club at 6.30pm.
(from a press release)