Work stood down after public meeting

The guided busway meeting
The guided busway meeting

TRANSPORT bosses agreed to stand down work on a controversial public transport scheme for further consultation after a stormy meeting.

Almost 500 residents gave their views on the guided busway at Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley on Saturday afternoon, with many expressing deep anger at the project and the disruption caused by the construction work.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Wigan Council agreed to stand down the work in Tyldesley Market Square, which was due to start on Monday November 10, to allow residents the chance to have their say on how it will eventually look.

The meeting also decided Astley Street should have a single lane open while work is carried out once Hough Lane is finished, with traffic flowing southbound towards the East Lancs Road. However, this will require a three-week road closure while water mains are diverted.

Residents also expressed the hope the full road closure could be done outside of school exam periods, with the panel agreeing to look into the possibility of shutting the route during the Easter holidays.

The panel, which also included Leigh MP Andy Burnham, Paul Robinson from contractor Balfour Beatty and ward councillors from along the guided busway route, spent almost three hours answering questions in a meeting which at times became extremely heated.

Mr Burnham and Peter Boulton from Transport for Greater Manchester both apologised for the unacceptable levels of disruption construction on the public transport project has caused and said planned work on Chaddock Lane has been postponed until next summer.

Questions covered a huge range of topics from concern over access to the route for the emergency services to the issue of children safely crossing Tyldesley market square to whether the planned car parks will be big enough.

However, the committee faced heckling and shouts when representatives tried to point out the potential benefits of the £76m scheme, while the lack of recent public consultation over the busway also came in for heavy criticism.

Dave Smith from Facebook protest group Enough is Enough said: “We think the meeting was a massive success and we would like to thank Andy Burnham for his efforts.

“He did exactly what we demanded from him, he stood up higher than anybody else and put himself right on the firing line.

“Peter Boulton also agreed to postpone the works in Tyldesley town centre and consult the residents again, so all in all we got what we wanted.”

Mr Burnham said: “It was obviously difficult but I understand how strongly people feel and it was a good meeting.

“I know people sometimes may not feel this way but we are listening and I think the conclusions will help everybody and also hold out the possibility of finding some common ground as we try to take this forward.”