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Labour and Greens head for bust-up over plans to reopen road during Climate Emergency

Cycling campaigners want to see the closure of Pinstone Street made permanent, as the Council Leader calls Connecting Sheffield plans in for review.

First South Yorkshire Volvo single deck bus in Pinstone Street geograph org uk 1254600

Pinstone Street before it was closed to traffic last summer.

P L Chadwick on Wikimedia Commons.

Both member parties of Sheffield's Cooperative Executive are heading for a disagreement on Thursday over plans to reopen a city centre road to traffic.

Despite declaring a 'Climate Emergency' in 2019, some members of the Labour group have suggested they want to see Pinstone Street reopened to cars and buses.

The road, which borders the Peace Gardens, was closed to all traffic as part of the temporary changes to boost active travel during the pandemic.

The closure was due to become permanent as part of the Council's successful £50 million Connecting Sheffield bid to the government, but Labour council leader Terry Fox has asked the Scrutiny Committee to re-examine the Pinstone Street part of the plan.

The Green group strongly oppose any move to reopen Pinstone Street, and have called on pro-cycling campaigners to make their feelings known at Thursday's meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.

"We do not believe the city centre [Connecting Sheffield] scheme can be delivered if motor traffic is restored along this route and as a result significant funding will be lost," said Cycle Sheffield in a statement.

"These schemes are vital to deliver improvements for walking and public transport which are badly needed in Sheffield to give people viable alternatives to making their journeys by car."

The government recently indicated that it was prepared to withdraw future funding to local councils that reverse active travel changes made during the pandemic.

A report to the Scrutiny Committee by Council transport planner Matthew Reynolds outlines the rationale for keeping the road closed to traffic, including improved bus journey times and reduced air pollution.

The report also says that the planned £15m transformation of Fargate would be "limited" if the road space around the Town Hall were kept for a major bus route.

Reynolds' report goes on to state that a 2020 public consultation showed "a clear recognition that Pinstone Street should be used as a more people-friendly environment and the scheme would deliver this with the removal of the traffic, bringing greenery and improving safety."

The Scrutiny Committee will meet at 1pm tomorrow at the Town Hall. The meeting will also be broadcast online.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)

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