RESIDENTS and businesses are campaigning to change a town centre traffic layout to put drivers on the right track for visiting the shops.
Atherton Business Partnership and Atherton Residents’ Association have jointly launched a petition calling on Wigan Council to open up Market Street to through traffic and alter several aspects of the town centre’s one-way routes.
They say the current layout does not encourage people to visit Atherton’s shops and businesses but instead steers them towards supermarket developments on the outskirts of town or onto neighbouring urban centres.
Campaigners have been putting the petition in shops and will be heading out onto the streets to try to secure the 5,000 signatures necessary to automatically trigger a debate on the issue in the council chamber.
Atherton Business Partnership secretary Norman Bradbury said: “Ever since the one-way system was introduced businesses have had the opinion that it destroyed the heart of Atherton town centre.
“What we need is through traffic to encourage people to stop and go into the shops, but the present layout leads people to the supermarket then filters them out of town towards Leigh or Tyldesley.
“It’s virtually a zero-cost exercise for the council as all they would have to do is stop the traffic lights at the end of Market Street. The infrastructure doesn’t need changing at all.
“Traffic already goes through until about 10am which is the peak period and then again after about 4pm, so I don’t see why we can’t have traffic going through when the roads are quieter.”
The petition asks Wigan Council chief executive Donna Hall allow Market Street to be open to through traffic around the clock, Crab Tree Lane made two-way up to its junction with Market Street and for the Stanley Street one-way route to be reversed.
The campaigners also want Mayfield Street re-opened to allow traffic to get back into the town centre.
The residents’ association says one of the biggest problems facing potential visitors to Atherton town centre is that many of the one-way routes head in the same direction.
The petition is just one of a number of ideas the association’s members have come up with in a bid to make Atherton a more attractive destination.
Atherton Residents’ Association chair Stuart Gerrard said: “It’s about getting more people shopping in Atherton, and the bigger footfall the more the main shops will want to come into the town and open up a variety of stores which we need.
“Opening up Market Street will boost trade and also lower carbon footprints as people will be able to go to their own local high street to get what they want.
“We also need to look at the parking situation because the car parks near the town centre are full. We know people are parking up and then going on the train into Manchester or Bolton.”
The petition is available to sign at a number of shops in Atherton town centre and an online version is being prepared.