Shared space road closure sparks anger

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Residents and businesses are up in arms at the news that a busy town centre high street will not be fully open to traffic for a YEAR AND A HALF.

Work began on Monday on the first phase of the controversial shared space scheme for Kirkintilloch, with Cowgate closed to vehicles between Townhead Bridge and Catherine Street for up to 12 weeks.

It has now been revealed the entire length of Cowgate, from Townhead up to the library at West High Street, will be subject to 
an 18-month rolling closure until August 6, 2017.

The Herald’s Facebook page was inundated with complaints after East Dunbartonshire Council revealed the phased closures in a public notice on Wednesday, February 3.

Pauline Rankin said: “I have a business in Alexandra Street. How are people supposed to get there if the road is shut?”

Catherine Johnston posted: “Road closures mean a decline in parking where this is a huge problem already.”

Paul O’Connor added: “Might as well shut the shops along Cowgate as they’ll lose business.”

Olwen Wilson posted: “East Dunbartonshire Council just railroad their ludicrous schemes through and don’t care what residents want.”

The shared space project, which has been met with opposition from thousands of people, includes the removal of traffic lights, pedestrian crossings - including at the busy Catherine Street junction - and safety barriers.

Pedestrians and vehicles, including buses and lorries, will share the space, with no one having right of way.

Protestors fear for the safety of pedestrians, particularly disabled people, blind people, the elderly and children.

For the first phase, pedestrian access through Cowgate will remain and businesses will be open as usual.

John Cahill of First Glasgow buses said town centre services would remain 
with altered routes and timetables.

He added: “We recommend planning ahead, checking where new bus stops are and allowing a little extra time for your journey.”

Council leader Rhondda Geekie said signs had been erected to say Cowgate will shut for 18 months but work may finish before then.

She added: “This does not mean the full length of Cowgate will be closed for that time. It will be closed in distinct phases and diversions put in place, with notice given in advance. Pedestrian access will be maintained and I hope people continue to support traders and hostelries.”