'Don’t pave over our roads': Wolverhampton traders backed by 1,000-strong petition
Hundreds of people are fighting city-centre pedestrianisation plans that have left Wolverhampton business owners fearing for their future.
The controversial Westside Link project would see streets, including Lichfield Street and Queen Square, paved over to provide access from the Interchange through the city to the £55 million Westside development, which will include a cinema.
But businesses on the affected roads say they are afraid that the project will sever passing trade from bus passengers, leaving them unable to continue.
More than 1,000 people have now signed a petition against the plans.
Paul Gill, owner of convenience shop Virk Cut Price on Lichfield Street, which has been in the city for 34 years, said many of his customers are people who get off at the bus stop outside his door.
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He said: “This scheme will alienate people, not bring them into the city. Instead they should be talking to businesses and bringing more shops into town.
“The majority of our trade between 9am and midday are elderly customers, they get off the buses on Lichfield Street and do their shopping.
"We’ve spoken to our customers and the consensus is that they are not going to walk from the bus station just to get into town as they can’t do it.
"The message to the council is, don’t pedestrianise the road, people don’t want it.”
Councillor John Reynolds, cabinet member for city economy, said: “Plans have yet to be finalised on the Westside Link scheme as the consultation process, which started in October, continues.
"We have already consulted with many of the small businesses affected. The scheme is expected to increase visitor footfall and reduce shop vacancy rates.
"We are also working with Transport for the West Midlands and the bus operators, and the intention is to maintain accessibility to all destinations in the city centre by introducing new bus stops.”