Council approves air quality plan to shut Basford Bank and Victoria Road to traffic


A controversial air quality plan to block traffic from using two major city roads has been approved by a neighbouring authority.

Newcastle Borough Council bosses rubber stamped the plans in principle at a cabinet meeting last week.

The plans would see Victoria Road, in Fenton, and Etruria Road, in Basford, partially closed to rush-hour traffic to reduce illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide. It follows a Government directive, calling on local councils to take action.

Although the lower section of Basford Bank falls within Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s area, the rest of it lies within Newcastle borough and comes under Staffordshire County Council’s highways responsibility.

As part of the £13.5 million plan, ‘bus gates’ would be installed to restrict traffic in one direction to buses, taxis and bicycles for six hours a day at each location.

EU air quality rules limit NO2 levels to 40 micrograms per cubic metre, with both Basford Bank and Victoria Road currently exceeding that limit.

Borough council leader Simon Tagg said: “These options before us are the least which are required to amend the issue, which is air quality, on a small part of Basford Bank for us.

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“It involves a virtual bus gate, not a physical gate, which would mean cars would be fined if they went through there on the restricted hours, which I’m sure would be welcomed by a lot of people.”

Mr Tagg suggested that electric cars be allowed through the gates from the start of the scheme, although under the current plans they would not be exempt. He made an official recommendation on this point.

The council will also lobby local MPs Aaron Bell and Jonathan Gullis to write to the Government to relax these measures while the council fights the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s scrutiny committee members had previously labelled the measures ‘draconian’ and suggested the city come up with an alternative plan. However, that is highly unlikely to happen as the time limit for complying with the ministerial directive is in around three weeks’ time.





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