Traffic information centres could be kept open if anybody is willing to run them

The closure-threatened travel information centre at Preston bus station is one of four across Lancashire which could remain open.
The closure-threatened travel information centre at Preston bus station is one of four across Lancashire which could remain open.

Four closure-threatened transport information centres in Lancashire could remain open if the county council can agree a deal with groups interested in running them.

The hubs at Preston bus station, Carnforth railway station and Clitheroe and Nelson interchanges were all due to close after their budgets were cut earlier this year.

Two petitions were submitted to Lancashire County Council protesting at the planned closure of the information centre at Clitheroe interchange.

Two petitions were submitted to Lancashire County Council protesting at the planned closure of the information centre at Clitheroe interchange.

But a public consultation revealed “considerable objection” to the proposal, according to papers presented to a meeting of the authority’s cabinet.

Members agreed that the centres should now stay open while council officials explore the possibility of handing them to organisations which have expressed an interest in taking over the services.

Keith Iddon, Lancashire County Council’s Member for Transport, told the meeting: “’I’m very hopeful that we [will] be able to keep the centres open at no extra cost to the council - which would be very good for everybody.”

Almost 900 people responded to the consultation and over 90 percent were opposed to the planned closures.

Two thirds of respondents said they would travel less frequently than they do now if the centres were no longer available.

The council’s own assessment of the plan concluded it would have “a disproportionate adverse impact” on vulnerable groups.

“[It] may make travel by public transport more difficult for older people and for people with disabilities, because other sources of information and tickets are less understandable,” the report noted.

“Older and disabled people are less likely to use digital alternatives to obtain travel information or tickets,” it added.

The original proposal would have saved the authority £156,000 per year by 2019/20. Members were told that an assessment period to decide whether to offer the centres to other operators would delay the full savings for a further year.

Labour opposition leader, Azhar Ali, welcomed the move and asked that any takeover proposals made by people who work at the centres be considered.

Leader of the Conservative-run authority, Geoff Driver, said of the overall plan: “We’re quite happy to do this; it is the right way to proceed.”

A final decision on the future of the travel centres will be taken by cabinet when a report into the expressions of interest is presented at a later date.