Puffin crossing could result in loss of seven to eight parking spaces
LYME Regis Town Council has approved plans for a pedestrian crossing in Broad Street.
The council first pushed for a pedestrian crossing to improve safety in the town centre in 2016, with more than 600 residents signing a petition.
Dorset County Council then approved the scheme and assigned money in its budget for this financial year, but after returning to the town council with more specific plans, members expressed concerns that the crossing would result in the loss of too many car parking spaces.
Town councillors were surprised to be told that the crossing would have to be sited between the Pug & Puffin and Joules stores, and not where the pavement was already widened further down Broad Street.
The county council said this could result in the loss of seven to eight car parking spaces along the side of the road.
Speaking at a meeting in October, the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, expressed concern that local traders would object to the crossing, and said the scheme would “kill the town”.
At that time, it was agreed to go back to the county council and ask if there were any possible alternative locations for the crossing.
In particular, town councillors suggested outside Tesco Express where parking was already not allowed as a possible alternative.
‘Preferred and practical location’
However, at Wednesday night’s meeting it was confirmed that the county’s original suggestion outside Pug & Puffin was considered the “preferred and only practical location”.
The suggestion to site the crossing near the top of Broad Street was not deemed possible because of its proximity to junctions with Silver Street and the NCP car park.
The idea of having it where the pavement is already widened was also deemed not feasible because it would be too close to the Royal Lion Hotel car park entrance.
Despite their earlier concerns about loss of parking, town councillors agreed to approve the crossing in the proposed location outside Pug & Puffin, as there was no other option.
Councillor Cheryl Reynolds, who was one of the main campaigners for the crossing, expressed her “despair” that fellow members had “moaned about the loss of parking” after getting Dorset County Council to agree to the crossing.
“I still feel, no matter what anyone says, that we need a crossing in this town. If that’s the only place we can have it, we should go ahead with it… we’re the only town with no crossing of some kind.
“I know you’ll say it will back up the traffic but in the summer there traffic is already backed up and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Resources ‘may not be available in future’
Councillor Jeff Scowen agreed, saying that the council had to go ahead with the crossing after putting in so much work.
Councillor Richard Doney said the council was “stuck between a rock and a hard place”.
“Do we want a crossing or are we more concerned about loss of parking?” he asked.
Councillor Steve Miller said the council had “started down this route with the best of intentions” and expressed concern that if they did not go ahead with the crossing now, the resources from Dorset County Council would not be available in the future.
It was agreed to approve the crossing, with six members voting in favour, one against and one abstention.
The proposed crossing will now be publicly advertised and if objectors come forward it will go before the Regulatory Committee at Dorset County Council for a final decision.
The proposal is for a puffin crossing. This is a pedestrian crossing with traffic lights which go green again only when no more pedestrians are detected on the crossing by infrared detectors and mats.
The lights controlling pedestrians are also on the same side as the pedestrian, rather than on the opposite side as seen on a pelican crossing, as this encourages them to look in the direction of oncoming traffic.