The plan to build an extension of the Blackpool tramway running up Talbot Road to North Station has been approved at a full council meeting held on the evening of Wednesday 29th June. 26 councillors voted in favour of the extension being constructed, with just 11 opposing it. It was mostly the Labour party who ensured that the outcome was a positive one, with just one Conservative voting in favour of the proposals!
There has been some very vocal opposition to the tramway extension from local taxi drivers who are apparently concerned about the potential impact the trams will have on traffic congestion (so nothing to do with the increase competition then!?), and these views were echoed by Councillor Peter Callow who also voiced his worries that passing trams may disrupt funeral services at the church on Talbot Road! But these protests were ultimately in vain as a large majority voted in favour of the extension being built, using funds pledged by a local transport grant topped up by Council funding.
Deputy Council Leader Gillian Campbell said at the meeting: “Every town in the country that has a tramway or underground, operates it to meet with the major railway system, for example Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield, and there are clear advantages to this”. She also explained that measures were being taken to ensure that the actual construction works would be carefully planned so as to minimise the negative effects on the town, and discussed the potential benefits to all transport in having better integration.
There are of course still further hurdles to overcome before the extension can be formally approved and work can begin – but having Council support is a really important step forward and one that will hopefully ensure that the aim of having a tram service to North Station up and running by 2019 will become a reality.