Petition submitted for the permanent pedestrianisation of the Parade in Leamington
A petition for Warwickshire County Council to permanently pedestrianise the Parade in Leamington town centre has now been submitted to Warwickshire County Council..
Dentist Dr Hafeez Ahmed, who lives in Binswood Avenue in the town centre, has launched the petition titled Creating a Tranquil Town Centre for People & Pets and it will be active for people to sign on the council's website from Monday March 15 to Tuesday June 15.
Dr Ahmed said: "I live and work in Leamington Spa, and take my daily exercise by going on two or three brisk walks or bike rides around the Town. During Lockdown I’ve seen that a lot of other residents are doing the same as me.
I noticed that the town centre with the Parade open to traffic feels like a ‘go-through’ town.
"Without vehicles the same place feels more like a ‘go-to’ destination.
"It got me thinking about some of the European city breaks I’ve enjoyed and how creating a central go-to destination would be desirable to the local residents - especially since, it looks as if more people are set to be spending more time working remotely from home.
"A central hub would also be desirable to those who work in the town centre.
"In fact it would be the perfect environment for the two groups to mingle and integrate.
"A carefully landscaped and organised central café-culture hub would act like the nucleus at the heart of every atom attracting everything around it.
"The traditional shopping street has been undergoing a transformation ever since retail shifted to the internet.
"Covid and the Lockdown didn’t cause it; they’ve merely acted as an accelerant.
"The trend is likely to continue and some modes of retail are unlikely to return to high streets.
"I’d heard that The Parade had been partially pedestrianised some 40 years ago, but, for reasons I’m unsure of, the scheme was abandoned.
"To find out more I spent a week talking to people up and down The Parade about potential pedestrianisation.
"Without hesitation everyone liked the idea."
Dr Ahmed said that while most of those he spoke to in the Parade were in full support of the road being pedestrianised there were some who expressed concerns about how it would affect people living in roads which are being used as diversionary routes around the shopping street.
He said: "There were some individuals who expressed a concern on behalf of older residents; they felt that the elderly may find it more difficult to walk to bus stops, but, they also stated that their desire for less traffic, less noise and less pollution was far greater.
"The older individuals I spoke to didn’t seem to mind the relocation of bus stops.
"They told me that going out for them had become more recreational since the supermarkets had started home deliveries. However, they felt that The Parade was safer with traffic going up and down it.
"This surprised me.
"They went on to explain that as soon as the traffic is removed it becomes a 'free for all' for bikes and skateboards, at varying speeds, in varying directions and in varying numbers. By the end of the week it became obvious that it wasn’t going to be possible to please all groups.
"There was an underlying concern about traffic being shifted to adjacent neighbouring roads.
"This is a valid concern as it is inevitable, but, it is not a valid enough reason not to attempt to reduce the overall volume of traffic flowing through our town centre.
"Nothing compares to the nightmarish traffic experienced by Central London in the heyday of the car.
"They’ve managed the change and now enjoy much lower levels of traffic.
"I’ve taken all the comments I received and reflected them in my e-petition.
"It is for the local residents to decide if we want to plan for the future or if we want to remain tied to the past and, if so, why ever did we support the building of a byway?
"Perhaps letting the chairman of British Railways, Dr Richard Beeching, close Leamington's second railway station wasn’t such a good idea after all."
Paul O'Keeffe has lived in Clarendon Street for 30 years.
The road is currently on the diversionary route with its bus stops serving as a hub for routes in and out of the town centre.
He said he does not mind having to put up with the increased traffic while Coronavirus restrictions are currently in place but is so against the Parade being pedestrianised permanently once lockdown is over that he might launch a counter petition against the idea.
He said: "A bus passes my window every two minutes.
"It's like living at the side of a motorway."
To view and sign Dr Hamed's e-petition visit https://democracy.warwickshire.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=19