RENEWED calls for traffic reduction measures have been made in Ulverston, following improved air quality levels during the lockdown period.

Environmental groups have made a joint call for a ‘traffic-free town centre’ instead of the planned one-way pedestrian system discussed by South Lakeland District Council last week.

“We should be controlling traffic, not the way people walk,” says a joint statement from XR Furness and Clean Air for Ulverston.

“There would be no problem in keeping our distance if traffic was banned from the town centre every day, as it is on Thursdays and Saturdays, so we can walk in the road.

“Town centres should be for people, not cars.”

Aside from Market Street and New Market Street, which are already closed to traffic on market days (Thursdays and Saturdays), the groups propose adding Union Street and part of Brogen Street to create a permanent, traffic-free, clean air zone in Ulverston.

But not everyone agrees. Cllr Norman Bishop-Rowe, who favours removing traffic lights in the town to tackle air pollution, is opposed to the idea of a car ban.

“Do you want a drawbridge?" he said, commenting on the proposal.

"Because that’s what a traffic ban would be tantamount to.

“This is an ancient market town - there are no service roads around it. If a car ban is introduced, the town will just die.

“There are a lot of grocery and other service deliveries serving this area. What would the town’s elderly population do if cars were suddenly banned from Ulverston?

“Most drivers aren’t people from the town so they just travel on through.

“The town centre is relatively pollution-free. It’s the A590 that’s the main source of air pollution around here.

"A freer flow of traffic through the town would be the solution - closer interlinking to keep a flow through. There are around half a dozen sets of traffic lights in Ulverston at the moment.

"I know one family living on Canal Street who have considered relocating to Egypt because they can’t handle the pollution.”

The joint statement from the two environmental groups also said: "Since the lockdown, many people have commented on how much more pleasant it is to walk around town without the noise and poisonous fumes of traffic. 

"Studies have shown banning traffic increases footfall by up to 40 per cent and a majority of traders in are in favour of a traffic-free town, according to a survey. 

"But in any case, health must come first - emissions from vehicles kill an estimated 20 people a year Ulverston, based on Public Health England figures. 

"And of course any reduction in car use will not only improve air quality but help limit the worst effects of the climate emergency."