An official investigation will be launched into Huddersfield’s bus gates.
Traders and councillors behind a campaign to have the unpopular traffic cameras switched off are celebrating after a Kirklees Council committee agreed to look into the matter.
Huddersfield Town Centre Action Group (HTCAG) has claimed that business has slumped by up to 40% since the gates went live last March.
HTCAG has been calling for a probe into the impact on retailers for more than nine months but councillors have resisted an investigation until now.
A Conservative led bid to get the bus gates suspended was defeated in a council vote last month but senior councillors did agree to form a new cross party panel to review town centre issues – including the impact of the gates on businesses.
Now Kirklees Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee has agreed to launch a specific investigation into whether officials and councillors acted properly when proposing the scheme in 2014 and 2015.
Bus gates were first mooted in public in June 2014 and £1.2m to finance them was secured from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
The scrutiny committee will take evidence from shopkeepers, businesses, and other groups such as bus companies, to analyse if there has been any oversight.
It could then make recommendations to the council’s Cabinet – the panel of senior Labour councillors who have so far refused to accept that bus gates are hurting the town centre.
The scrutiny committee does not have the power to rule the gates should be removed. Only the council’s Cabinet can decide whether to suspend or remove them.
Nevertheless, bus gate protesters are celebrating the decision to review decisions that led to the installation of the cameras.
Clr Richard Smith, whose motion to have the gates suspended was lost, said he hoped something would come from the scrutiny review.
The Kirkburton Tory said: “Scrutiny will look at why they were implemented in the first place and if the consultation was done properly.”
And Clr Smith said whatever the verdict he would keep campaigning for a re-think.
“I want to keep going until they are switched off,” he said.#
The Examiner revealed last year that the bus gate cameras installed around the town centre have generated more than £442,000 in fines.
About 15,000 motorists have been snared by the cameras, which enforce traffic restrictions on Westgate, Kirkgate, Market Street, High Street and St George’s Square.