Some believe Buxton’s narrow roads and lack of parking is holding the town back so a meeting was held to try and see what could be done to improve the area.
Held in the Devonshire Dome, Buxton on the Move had speakers from Buxton Town Team, High Peak Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council along with a taxi driver, the ambulance service, rail companies - who all explained how traffic and travel impacts on their day to day journeys.
Martin Cassini was the keynote speaker who said that traffic lights were doing more harm than good, as they created more congestion issues than resolving them.
Roddie Maclean, director of Buxton Town Team, kicked off the conference. He said: “Buxton is living on the edge of great change; exciting, major projects are about to take off and further creative plans are being developed.
“Just a small push could get Buxton on the move and in the right direction.”
Taxi driver Darren Sherwin said that he loses almost half of his travelling time to waiting at traffic lights.
He said: “There is such a volume of traffic on Fairfield Road, and London Road is heading that way too, that it is becoming difficult to drive around, and there are too many traffic lights halting journeys.
“I’m not sure if this would work but a footbridge by the station would make it easier for everyone both pedestrians and drivers.”
The conference highlighted issues not just with road users but those with disabilities.
Dave Bennett from the High Peak Access group said: “A few small improvements would make a big difference to those less able such as keeping walkways clear.
“Drivers are so focused on travelling that they don’t think of other people and there are times when those less able are made to feel like second class citizens.”
The plight of the emergency services was brought up by Craig Whyles.
He said: “In the High Peak there are four ambulances to cover the area in the day and three at night and for the call outs we have to deal with it is a challenge.”
He spoke about narrow roads not enabling drivers to move out of the way and when planning roadworks more consideration should be given to the emergency services.
Lorries from Tunstead Quarry and other haulage vehicles were noted as being a concern on the roads, however, Councillor Tony Kemp, executive councillor for tourism, regeneration and licensing, said the work they do is ‘vital’ and called them the ‘lifeblood of the town’.
Derbyshire County Council is currently holding a public consultation as it needs to make cut backs on subsidised bus services across the county.
Thomas Manship from High Peak Buses said: “I personally would prefer a scheduled service and not a community transport bus that only runs if people book it, however until we know the outcome of the consultation we don’t know what the changes will be.”
He also said that due to the volume of traffic and traffic lights, the 199 service had to be re-timed as it kept being late.
Helen Davison, from Friends of the Peak District, highlighted car parking charges in the town.
She said: “It seems the council only want you to stay for four hours in this wonderful town. They are missing a trick not providing long stay flexible car parking.”
This issue was echoed by Simon Glinn, chief executive for Buxton Opera House, who said: “Sixty-two per cent of our audiences come from postcodes that are not SK17 or SK22 but not enough is being done to cater for their needs with car parking.
“You would struggle to find a venue outside of London with the same reach but we are missing out as people have no where to park.” A suggestion came from the audience about using school carparks during the summer holidays or hiring out drive ways to cater for the influx of tourists and Simon Fussell from Buxton Civic Association - which owns Poole’s Cavern - said its car park is used by residents during Christmas and low season.
Executive director of High Peak Council, Dai Larner, said people have a passion for the town which makes regeneration easier and the economy is punching above its weight with investments and trade, which he said was great. For many years there has been talk of trying to reconnect the Buxton to Matlock line and Peak Rail director, Paul Tomlinson, thinks if it would ever reopen it would get people off the road - but still visiting the town.
He said: “The Pied Piper effect of steam would bring people here but we would also have a diesel line to benefit regular commuters.”
Describing traffic flow, transport strategy manager for Derbyshire County Council, Jim Seymour, said: “Buxton is more normal than I thought. The problem is there is not a great choice of roads to use so those who wish to go through town or to travel on to outside of the area have to use the same roads.”
Looking at how to address the problems Mr Cassini said he believes it would be in the town’s best interest to remove traffic lights.
He said: “Who can judge the road and traffic situations better, the person driving at that time or a machine?
“I’m not anti-car, I’m pro choice and believe that the toddler crossing the road with its parents is equal to the lorry driver but traffic has assumed the right of way which is wrong. Traffic lights are the knee-jerk response to the cancer that is road priority.”
Looking to the future, Liz Mackenzie said that The Crescent would be closed for 18 months while work takes place on developing the hotel but said: “The town is heading for another renaissance the greatest we have seen in this area for more than a century.”
Both Richard Iggulden and Gary Rowland, from Network Rail and the Atkins Project, respectively are looking to the future and in the next four year hope to have finished work on extending the sidings so more quarry loads can travel on rail - not road - and work on the A6 will be finished making it easier to travel.
Dick Silson said: “This conference is about getting people talking, thinking and doing.”