Plans to close Westgate in Wakefield city centre to cars revealed

Wakefield Council is considering shutting Westgate to cars at certain times.
Wakefield Council is considering shutting Westgate to cars at certain times.

Plans to close a major city centre road to cars on three nights of the week have been proposed by Wakefield Council.

The local authority has suggested shutting Westgate to most vehicles on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, to improve road safety and encourage a "more vibrant night-time culture" in the city.

Under the proposals, buses and taxis would still be allowed to access the road, but cars would not be allowed onto Westgate between the junctions with Drury Lane and Wood Street.

The closure would take effect between 11pm and 5am.

The council is contacting residents and businesses in the area for their views of the idea, and will then consult with the wider public once that process has been completed.

Councillor Matthew Morley, portfolio holder for transport, said: "There is a bustling night time scene in this area and we want to encourage this and create an environment in which people can be safe when they go out to the theatre, bars, pubs, restaurants and night clubs in the area.

"This is not a foregone conclusion, therefore I would encourage everyone with an interest to participate in the consultation which will inform the decision."

The authority says that 15 road accidents have taken place around the top of Westgate during the past five years. Eleven of these involved pedestrians.

But it's not the first time attempts have been made to pedestrianise the road.

In 2005, the council wanted to close the Westgate to traffic for good, although these plans were subsequently dropped.

The following year, the city centre area was shut to motorists between 7pm and 4.30am on Friday and Saturday nights for several weeks as part of a trial.

Back then, the police said it was hoped the scheme would cut violent crime and get people out of the city centre faster, avoiding late night boozy punch-ups.

However, this idea too, was later abandoned.

The changes could take effect before the end of the year, if they are agreed.

Local Democracy Reporting Service