BUSES will continue to be banned from travelling through St Ives town centre ... at least for now.
For a decade bus services in St Ives have had to bypass the town centre and instead use East Street and North Street before joining Ramsey Road and journeying on to Huntingdon.
The council was asked by bus companies Go Whippet and Stagecoach to lift the ban following the success of the guided busway. Services through the town centre are to increase to up to 11 buses an hour, and changing the route, the companies argue, would allow services to be more consistent, avoid traffic and serve the further reaches of the town centre, such as The Broadway.
At a meeting of St Ives Town Council on Wednesday (March 14), councillors confirmed their opposition to re-routing, but did agree to consult market traders, businesses and shoppers about the proposed changes in order to make an informed decision at a later date.
Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach, had hoped to start running guided buses through the centre when he introduces new buses in the summer.
He told the council: “I approached councillors 18 months ago asking for the same thing and we were turned down as no-one knew how successful it would be.
“We do not want the market to suffer, as we need to be able to bring people to St Ives for a reason.
“The market is one. I think businesses in The Broadway would want a bus stop. It would benefit them and add to the prosperity of that end of town.
“At the moment passengers don’t get a taste of St Ives, as they are shipped round the outskirts and don’t see the shops. They don’t know what’s there.”
Peter Lee, managing director of Go Whippet, said: “It would be good for the town to make it more accessible and more amenable, especially The Broadway, which has been neglected for some time. I think we can compromise and find a way forward to allow buses to access the town for the first time in 10 or 20 years.”
Town Councillor Jason Ablewhite told the meeting: “For the 12 years I have been councillor this problem has come up.
“And although the guided busway has brought more business to the town, we must maintain our stance and not allow buses through the town centre.
“People in St Ives want the centre to be semi-pedestrianised. We shouldn’t go against the will of the people.”
Cllr Nick Dibben added: “There’s a benefit to have buses going through the town centre but we need to discuss with residents and businesses to see if they actually want it, and that is not going to be done before the summer when the new services start.”