WORK on the controversial guided busway in Tyldesley town centre has been stood down following a huge public meeting.
Around 500 residents gave their views on the project at an often-heated meeting at Fred Longworth High School which saw transport bosses and politicians come in for heavy criticism.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Wigan Council agreed to stand down the work in Tyldesley Market Square, which was due to start on Monday November 10, to allow residents the chance to have their say on how it will eventually look.
The meeting also decided Astley Street should have a single lane open while work is carried out once Hough Lane is finished, with traffic flowing southbound towards the East Lancs Road. However, this will require a three-week road closure while water mains are diverted.
Residents also expressed the hope the full road closure could be done outside of school exam periods, with the panel agreeing to look into the possibility of shutting the route during the Easter holidays.
However, the panel which included ward councillors and Leigh MP Andy Burnham, also faced severe criticism from residents furious at the delays and disruption caused by the construction work on the busway, which will run from Leigh to Manchester city centre.
Almost three hours of questions included discussion of topics ranging from the areas set aside for park and ride to the number of stops to concerns over emergency services access and how children will safely cross Market Square in Tyldesley.
Residents also expressed clear anger at the lack of recent public consultation over the busway and the size of the workforce carrying out the construction, while a show of hands showed the vast majority of those attending do not want the project to be built at all.
Mr Burnham and Peter Boulton from Transport for Greater Manchester both apologised for the unacceptable levels of disruption construction on the public transport project has caused and said planned work on Chaddock Lane has been postponed until next summer.
Dave Smith from Facebook protest group Enough is Enough said: “We think the meeting was a massive success and we would like to thank Andy Burnham for his efforts.
“He did exactly what we demanded from him, he stood up higher than anybody else and put himself right on the firing line.
“Peter Boulton also agreed to postpone the works in Tyldesley town centre and consult the residents again, so all in all we got what we wanted.”
Mr Burnham said: “It was obviously difficult but I understand how strongly people feel and it was a good meeting.
“I know people sometimes may not feel this way but we are listening and I think the conclusions will help everybody and also hold out the possibility of finding some common ground as we try to take this forward.”
FOR MORE REACTION SEE THIS WEEK’S LEIGH REPORTER.