Call for referendum on buses in Torquay town centre shopping street
THE debate on whether buses should be allowed into Torquay's Fleet Street should be reopened and a referendum held, says ward councillor Darren Cowell.
And one of the street's traders claims the current mix of buses and shoppers is 'dangerous'.
Cllr Cowell said it would be 'nonsense' not to reconsider the use of the street by buses with public consultation on an improvement scheme for the area imminent.
He said: "There has been a debate about Fleet Street from the day it first opened.
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"With the process of the Neighbourhood Plan well under way, 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 Stagecoach has expressed reservations in the past but we are now looking to the future. Is it right we continue with buses using the street if it is having a negative impact on retailers?
"Opponents of a refreshed debate will argue a referendum will need to be held to reverse the decision made in a previous poll in the late 1990s.
"I believe 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.
"I anticipate the BID and Town Centres Company will be a considerable contributor to the town centre focus group of the Neighbourhood Plan as well as Torquay Town Community Partnership.
"It will be the perfect forum for Stagecoach to be a leading participant."
At the same time, Fleet Street trader jeweller John Doble has reiterated his long-held view that allowing buses in the busy shopping street is dangerous.
His shop canopy has now been hit twice by passing buses.
He said: "We have seen bigger and larger traffic down Fleet Street. Now every 45 seconds a bus will pass through rattling our windows, belching diesel fumes and travelling through the holidaymakers and pedestrians causing them to jump from side to side."