Save Blackett Street

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Newcastle City Council is proposing to close Blackett Street and Pilgrim Street as part of the council’s plans for redeveloping the city centre.  

Blackett Street is the main artery route through the city centre for bus services travelling from the East to the West of the city, as well as some services that run from the West and terminate in the city centre. These bus services include, but are not limited to, services 12, 32/32A, 39/40, 62/63, 71/72/87. In addition, Blackett Street is one of the main routes for the 100 bus service which connects the city centre to the MetroCentre.

The temporary closure of Blackett Street for the Christmas Market has created significant problems for commuters and shoppers alike. The closure has resulted in longer journey times for these buses through the city centre, becoming less reliable because of the congestion created. The replacement bus stops have been very difficult for elderly and disabled people and, with the volume of passengers for these services, there is insufficient protection from the elements.

The re-routing of buses and extra congestion created has increased emissions, in direct contravention of the climate change emergency declared by the council.

While the biggest direct impact is on the services that use Blackett Street, there will be an indirect impact on services that use Market Street and Grainger Street, such as 1, 22, 10/11 and 38 which will see more congestion on the route. 

The Christmas Market has demonstrated that the closure of Blackett Street is a flawed concept. Newcastle City Council proved that the city centre cannot cope with the loss of Blackett Street when they decided to put temporary 4 way lights on the junction at Newgate St and Clayton St for a two week period causing even more delays and congestion at certain times. City centre roads simply cannot cope with the loss of any more capacity.

Many residents tell us that the market is a fabulous initiative but placed in the wrong part of the city, cutting off public transport and dissuading shoppers from visiting parts of the city that are already struggling to attract shoppers.

The combination of the Blackett Street closure and additional traffic in the run-up to Christmas has resulted in gridlock at times, with delays of more than 2 hours for people trying to get out of the city centre on Saturday 23 November 2019 because these challenges and a weekend Metro suspension combined to snarl up the city centre. If the closure of Blackett Street and Pilgrim Street goes ahead, will this be a more regular occurance? 

We, the undersigned, call for Newcastle City Council to suspend all plans for the permanent closure of Blackett Street. We also call on the council to suspend plans for future Christmas Markets and look for a better location that encourages people to go to parts of the city where businesses are struggling.

 

Photo: ©Graham Robson (cc-by-sa/2.0)