TOWN leaders have expressed reluctance to open up their high street to traffic.

At their monthly meeting Buckley Town Council discussed a proposal to explore whether or not to open the high street to motorists as part of Flintshire Council’s wider car parking strategy.

The authority has proposed reviewing its pedestrianised zones in Buckley and Holywell in a bid to boost trade.

In a letter to Buckley Town Council, Flintshire Council’s network asset manager Mark Middleton said local businesses
had made representations to the local authority to review its parking orders and free up the high street to cars.

Debate is ongoing with businesses and community leaders in Holywell over whether a similar approach will be taken.

Buckley’s councillors expressed an interest in the free parking offered as part of the proposal, but felt they needed to see a more detailed plan, and that residents must have their say.

Cllr John Thornton was first to express his scepticism about the proposal, saying he had measured the road, it was quite narrow, and it would be a “very big job to alter it”.

He said: “The people of Buckley must have a say in it. We want somewhere we can walk around. It’s a nice communal area we should leave well alone.”

Cllr Carol Ellis put forward the suggestion that residents could take to the polls with a referendum on the subject.

She said: “It is common sense just to open the car park for free. It would save an awful lot of money that could be used to resurface our dreadful roads which are of a ‘third world’ standard.

“Making that car park free would solve all of the problems.

“The people of Buckley should be given the same opportunity as the residents of Holywell and Flint. Let’s have a referendum.”

Cllr Carolyn Preece said she was “totally against” the idea, and Cllr Vivienne Blondek said it was the wrong time to be thinking about de-pedestrianisation before an overall plan for the town centre is in place.

Concerns about safety were also highlighted by Cllr Arnold Woolley.

He said: “I fear people would no longer visit due to the dangers inherent. If this should go any further there should be a referendum. It should not be the shopkeepers or us in the chamber that decides, but the voice of the population.”

Cllr Sam Peers shared the same concerns, for the safety of both the elderly and young children.

A suggestion was put to other members by Cllr Richard Jones, who felt the businesses asking for the review should be taken into account.

He said: “Ask the council to come up with a design. If we don’t like it we can say we’re not happy and not going to support it.”

Members decided they would note the letter from the council, but reply that they could not make a decision or form an opinion until a more detailed scheme was presented to them.