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A426 bus lanes plan is given the go-ahead

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Bus lanes on one of the busiest routes into Leicester have been given the go-ahead.

Yesterday, County Hall approved a £5 million project it said would ease congestion along the A426 from Blaby to the city – despite thousands of people objecting to it.

People living along the routesaid the narrowing of pavements to bring in dedicated bus lanes would be a danger to pedestrians.

They also disputed highways officials' claims that speeding up bus journeys would encourage car drivers to switch to public transport.

Officers calculated bus journey times could be cut by between 15 minutes and half an hour. Opponents said the true figure was as little as five minutes.

Leicestershire County Council's cabinet was split in making the decision, with seven councillors in favour and two against.

Councillor Richard Blunt, who opposed the scheme, said: "How many times have we seen buses travelling along the road empty?

"There's a fundamental problem with the way we run buses in this country.

"For some reason, the bus doesn't seem to be winning the argument. The buses are getting more expensive and people still prefer the car."

Councillor Ernie White, who also opposed the plans, said: "If we are spending £5 million of public money, I would expect a bit more out of this than we are getting."

Cabinet transport spokesman Lesley Pendleton said: "I have to look at the larger picture.

"If we are going to encourage people to use bus services, we have to provide the infrastructure to do so. What we are trying to do is for the future."

About 20 residents attended the meeting at the county council's Glenfield headquarters.

Parish councillor Richard Johnson had led the protests as head of Glen Parva and Aylestone Action Group.

He said: "They have made a ridiculous decision and ignored more than 4,000 who signed that petition.

"Those people live near the road, know the road and use the road.

"The people who made this decision probably use it once in a blue moon.

"There is just no evidence car drivers will move to the buses if they get bus lanes.

"It's not a lack of bus lanes that stops them, it's the cost of tickets. This scheme will not make it cheaper to get a bus."

Andrea Gee, who lives in Lutterworth Road, Leicester, said: "The council is going to plough on regardless with a scheme that most people don't want."

Glen Parva's county councillor, Alan Bailey said: "We should not be imposing bus lanes simply because we want to be seen to be doing something to encourage bus use.

"We are in danger of progressing a flawed scheme which could haunt this council for many years to come."

As well as the bus lanes, the plans include remodelling junctions and better buses.

County Hall is putting £600,000 into the project, with bus firm Arriva adding £300,000 and the Government £2.5 million .

Leicester City Council is set to contribute £1.5 million should mayor Sir Peter Soulsby sign off the scheme.

He was due to be briefed on it this afternoon, but he said he would be guided by the county council decision.

A426 bus lanes plan is given the go-ahead


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