Petition calling for Leighton Buzzard High Street to be permanently pedestrianised presented to Central Bedfordshire Council

Leighton Buzzard High Street. Image: Neil Cairns.Leighton Buzzard High Street. Image: Neil Cairns.
Leighton Buzzard High Street. Image: Neil Cairns.
More than 2,000 people signed the petition

A 2,003-signature petition calling for Leighton Buzzard High Street to be pedestrianised has been presented to Central Bedfordshire Council.

The petition asks for more benches, trees and greenery, cycle parking and a continuous surface across the street, Tom Littlehales told the local authority on behalf of Leighton Linslade Living Streets Group.

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“It also calls for good provision for deliveries and disabled parking, while investigating bringing buses closer in and the use of ANPR technology to enforce the restriction,” he said.

“Leighton Buzzard lacks central spaces for residents to socialise outdoors for free. It’s unfortunate measures which make cycling or walking easier often face a vocal but minority opposition.

“Please keep the cars out of the High Street as pedestrianisation benefits the climate, is safer and more social, reduces air pollution and is better for business.”

Independent Potton councillor Tracey Wye, who’s the portfolio holder for sustainability and climate resistance, said: “The council is working on solutions towards your aim, such as serving the High Street with public transport because there’s not enough space at both ends for buses.

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“CBC’s developing the walking and cycling infrastructure plans focusing on five of our urban areas, including Leighton-Linslade. This will be consulted on shortly, and then priorities and schemes for improvement identified.

“Talks are being held with residents and businesses about what’s best for the area, along with the future of the land south of the High Street.”

Independent Leighton Linslade West councillor Steve Owen said: “There’s a strong body of opinion in Leighton Buzzard which would like to pedestrianise the High Street and a very strong body against.

“It’s not possible to pedestrianise at this time when so many businesses depend on front door delivery for their goods and post, while finding an alternative means won’t be a quick fix.

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“The buses point in the petition is part of the task list over the emergency traffic regulation order in Leighton Buzzard, so that’s being reviewed.”

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Independent Leighton Linslade North councillor Victoria Harvey explained: “This very much needs a whole council approach, as it covers so many areas.

“As a town of 50,000 residents, we don’t have an area of public space in which it’s easy to congregate. One of the real problems with the High Street is it has free parking.

“If there was free parking in the car parks, you could get the vehicles out of Church Square and the High Street allowing more space for people.”

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Liberal Democrat Leighton Linslade South councillor Shaun Roberts suggested: “Pedestrianisation could be great, if it’s coordinated with other plans around the town. I massively agree about getting the buses in closer.”

Conservative Heath and Reach councillor Mark Versallion warned: “I implore you listen to the businesses in the talks about the next steps.

“Whatever solution is reached will be in doubt, if the council hasn’t consulted properly.”

Liberal Democrat Leighton Linslade South councillor Emma Holland-Lindsay added: “The enduring complaint in the town is about traffic.

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“It would be helpful to consider this petition around people accessing the town centre without using their vehicles, so better investment in cycling, walking and public transport, which is crucial to this model working well.”