Corby's George Street traffic issues back in the spotlight after another accident
Another accident last week saw a cyclist hit by a van
Taxi drivers in Corby are calling for George Street's traffic problems to be sorted once and for all.
The street, which runs through the heart of Corby, is a no-through route from 8am to 6pm and use has been restricted to buses and taxis since the rank was moved from Corporation Street seven years ago, following the Parkland Gateway redevelopment and George Street transformation.
But the road is also open for all-vehicle access to Cardigan Place and Everest Lane which means that, in effect, it is used by thousands of cars, vans and motorbikes each day.
Although police carry out spot-checks and enforcement days, the traffic order governing George Street is difficult to enforce because those flouting it often claim to be using the road for legitimate access.
A shared space 'zebra' crossing across the road has posed issues for pedestrians because of the volume of traffic and several serious near-misses have seen people suffer injuries.
Now, after another accident last Tuesday (May 11) which saw a cyclist hit by a van on the crossing, local hackney carriage owners are calling on the new unitary authority to find a solution.
Chair of Corby Hackney Owners Association James Lafferty has been driving a cab in Corby since 1984 and has been chairman of the group for the past three years. Alongside his cab work he has a civil engineering degree. He said that his members have said from the outset the road layout is an accident waiting to happen.
"One day someone's going to get killed, and it won't be by a taxi or a bus, it'll be by one of the vehicles that's not even supposed to be there," he said.
"There's already been two close-calls.
"This has got to stop before someone gets killed.
"There was a survey done by the county council last year without consulting us. They need to come down here and see what type of vehicles are using George Street and why they are using it.
"From our point of view, we think the solution is to allow vehicles in to use Cardigan Place at one end, and Everest Lane at the other, but to have a big box marked-up in the middle that other vehicles are strictly not allowed to cross.
"I doesn't need to be a complicated situation. It's been a nightmare for years. If you're going to do a job then why not do it properly?
"The police say it's a mistake in the original traffic order so they can't do anything about it and we've been round and round with the county council for years on this.
"If there's a mistake with the traffic order then just apply to change it."
James believes that if the changes were made to George Street, it would simply take regular enforcement to stop people using it.
"Newland Street in Kettering has the same sort problem," he said.
"But nobody goes through that way because they know they'll get fined.
"I know you can get these bollards that recognise the taxis but we're not asking for that kind of extreme measure.
"People will soon realise they can't go down George Street anymore if they get fined.
"And if that doesn't work then we can start thinking about going to the next level. It's sensible to think first about what we could do at the minimum cost.
"We don't want them to spend a fortune in public money."
As part of a towns fund bid last year, Corby Council was offered a £750,000 government grant to improve the town centre including an estimated £400,000 to improve George Street. But those projects had to be completed by March in order to be eligible for the funding and, as that has not happened, it is currently unclear what the status of that money is.
Councillor Mark Pengelly's ward now takes in the town centre. He said that he believes it's finally time that this issue was tackled head-on.
"I've already raised it with the NNC officers but until a portfolio holder is in place, it's difficult to get anywhere.
"We have to look at a long-term solution for George Street.
"I believe there is money from the towns fund but we have to think about the best way to sort this out because at the moment 90 per cent of the traffic on that road shouldn't be there."
Because of the recent local government reorganisation in our county, there is currently no cabinet member for highways and transport at North Northamptonshire Council. One is set to be appointed later this month and local people plan to immediately lobby for George Street to be high on their agenda.
A spokesman for North Northamptonshire Council said: “Following the recent elections the new administration will officially take its position at the council’s annual meeting on May 26.
“We will then be working with the new portfolio holder to identify highways priorities across the new council area.”
Please let us know what you think of the George Street issues by emailing us at [email protected]