Pedestrianised Wakefield city centre road set to be reopened as scheme is scrapped

Wakefield Council has reversed its decision to pedestrianise a city centre street over concerns from businesses.

By James Carney
Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 5:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 5:44 pm
Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery with business owners on Northgate
Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery with business owners on Northgate

The council made the decision to pedestrianise Northgate from The Bullring to Cross Street as of July 10 to encourage cafe-bar style outdoor dining.

Some businesses on the street argued against the move at the time but the scheme was introduced on a temporary basis.

But after visiting the businesses who work on Northgate, council leader Denise Jeffery has decided to reopen the road.

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She said: “I have listened to our businesses and it is clear that this is not working for them. Times are tough enough for businesses at the moment and I am determined to support them –

Northgate will reopen as quickly as possible.

“The temporary pedestrian area was created with the best of intention by those involved.

“I understand it was expected that it would take some time to get established but after talking to businesses, it is clear that demand is not yet at a level where extra space is needed, so this is not the right time or right action to take.

“Tackling the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus means taking some risks and looking at how we can approach things differently. Some ideas will work, but where they don’t we will listen and make it right.

“What we can’t do is sit back and hope things will get better.”

Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan was critical of the idea when it was proposed and said it would damage business in the city.

Following yesterday’s announcement and speaking also on behalf on Wakefield Council’s Conservative group leader, Coun Nadeem Ahmed, Mr Khan said: “As representatives of the party who back local business in Wakefield, myself and Coun Ahmed are united in welcoming Coun Jeffery’s decision to reverse the experimental order.

“It is a victory for common sense and a victory for the continuity of business in Wakefield city centre.

“It just shows what can be done when the business community unite and come together to ensure that the right decision is made in the best interests of the city.”

Graham Howarth, chairman of the Wakefield BID, said: “Whilst we recognise the council acted with the best of intentions, the businesses the BID represents have been clear that the closure of Northgate is not helping them at this extremely difficult time.

"I am pleased that the Leader of Wakefield Council has taken the views of local businesses on board and ensured the swift removal of the road closure.” The road will reopen Friday, July 24.