Are new benches in Leighton Buzzard town centre 'an accident waiting to happen'?
'It's such a strange place to put them, I had to take another look, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.'
Newly-installed benches on Leighton Buzzard' s High Street are an accident waiting to happen, say residents.
The benches have been placed at the end of the loading bays outside the town's main shopping area, which are frequently used by delivery lorries.
However Leighton-Linslade Town Council says a permanent location for the benches has not yet been determined. It adds that service vehicles have a "duty of care" in recognising they are now entering a temporarily pedestrianised zone and that the need to use loading bays is currently no longer applicable.
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But Leighton Buzzard business owner Joe Edwards said he was shocked when he saw where they had been located.
"They are in unbelievably bad places," he said. "Delivery trucks come into the High Street most days and all of them will be reversing into the bays. It beggars belief. I can just see a lorry backing into the seats or dropping a tail down. Potentially they are dangerous, it's an accident waiting to happen.
"It's such a strange place to put them, I had to take another look, I couldn't believe what I was seeing."
Joe has driven delivery trucks and says despite having wing mirrors, there is always a blind spot which can make it difficult reversing in tight spots.
"And do you really want to sit in a loading bay with lorries blaring exhaust fumes all over you," he said.
"7.5 tonne delivery lorry, backing up with blind spots, family sat on bench, what a recipe. Incompetent goons again."
The placing on the benches has also been widely slammed on social media too.
But Leighton-Linslade Town Clerk Mark Saccoccio said: "Six benches were purchased by way of European Development Funding to support the 'reopening of high streets and bring back better because of the pandemic'. The temporary location of the benches is because of current circumstance only and will be the subject to future review.
"Presently the town centre remains subject to an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order meaning that all vehicular traffic is banned other than service and emergency vehicles. As a pedestrianised zone, the issue is more around motorists who decide to ignore its current pedestrianised status and compromise the health and safety of those pedestrians legitimately using this space.
"Service vehicles have a similar duty of care recognising that they are entering a pedestrianised zone. The need to park in a designated loading bay is no longer applicable given the current status of the High Street. Mindful of pedestrians who have legitimacy, service vehicles can stop where it is safe to do so without compromising the wellbeing of pedestrians.
"The twice weekly market, speciality markets and public events within the High Street will help decide the number and permanent location of benches. Consideration to this will be given once Central Bedfordshire Council in its highways capacity decides upon the future of pedestrianisation or otherwise."