11:48am Monday 4th February 2013
By Joseph Curtis
WINCHESTER City Council is making safety improvements to the High Street market after a bus collided with a boy next to the stalls last month.
The layout in the lower High Street will be changed with more stalls clustered together in small groups to allow bigger gaps and increased visibility for pedestrians and drivers.
Barriers and signs will also be installed in the gaps to encourage people to cross safely.
The changes follow a meeting last Friday between the city, county council, police, Stagecoach bus company and the market reviewing safety measures.
Cllr Vicki Weston attended on behalf of the council while Insp Andy Tester from the Roads Policing Unit and Sgt Andy Fisher of Winchester City Centre Safer Neighbourhoods Team represented the police.
Cllr Weston, portfolio holder for planning & transport said: “The market makes a valuable contribution to the economic vitality of the city centre and it is important that any changes we make are appropriate and seek to improve safety. Together with our partners we will closely manage the arrangements and keep the situation under review.
“Our thoughts remain with those involved in the accident and we hope that the young boy involved makes a speedy recovery.”
The boy was airlifted to hospital after the collision with the Stagecoach number three bus on January 25.
Winchester MP Steve Brine said: “I’m really pleased the wakeup call of the accident has been heeded. We will have to see how this works out and I will be interested in feedback from residents but the city council has taken sensible precautionary action and deserve credit for that.”
Stagecoach South managing director Andrew Dyer, also at the meeting, said he was happy with the solution but saw no need to change the bus route.
He said: “I think this will mean a significant improvement. It means that the point where anybody crosses the road is far enough away from the stalls that any driver coming past will have a better line of vision and will be able to see pedestrians, which was our main concern following the accident.
“We see no need to reroute the buses. We have not had any discussions and we will wait and see if there are any proposals and what they are but we cannot see an alternative route that would not inconvenience passengers or delay buses.”
But Cllr Ian Tait, ward councillor for the area, said he would not be reassured until the bus route was changed.
He said: “In fairness to the council, arrangements have been put in place to avoid any public health risk but I still do not think it is the appropriate solution and as soon as practically possible the buses should be diverted via the Friarsgate. It can be done and it would not be much of an inconvenience as buses have to rejoin St Georges Street already anyway.”
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