Blog: Why ask for Smithfield Road refuge opinions now?

Oh, so NOW you care what we think, do you? NOW you want to hear our opinion writes Dave Burrows.

Councillor Mansel Williams has decided that the pedestrian refuge on Smithfield Road (yes, THAT again) should be given a stay of execution while the people of Shrewsbury have a vote on its future.

Funny, but I don't remember anyone letting us have a vote on the bloomin' thing when it was dropped into the middle of a main route through the town with the usual minimal consultation.

Had we been given a vote, I suspect the answer to the question: 'Would you like us to blow £19,000 installing a pedestrian crossing RIGHT NEXT TO a pedestrian bridge (or, if you will, a 'crossing')?' might have been something along the lines of: 'You can hear yourselves, right?'

Shropshire Council has approved plans to get rid of the crossing, following complaints that its position causes serious traffic congestion.

Something they might have worked out earlier if they'd, ooh, let us have a vote on it. Which they didn't.

I like Mansel. He rides a bike everywhere. He says 'Belle Voo'. And he's a good local councillor. But I'm not letting him have this. I think perhaps the fact that he does cycle everywhere is clouding his opinion.

He says he will be approaching senior managers at the council about the possibility of holding a referendum.

He says he believes the removal of the refuge will 'simply give the message that Smithfield Road will become once again a race track for the motorised vehicle to speed along'.

'The motorised vehicle.' That phrase speaks volumes.

Councillor Williams says his opinion is shared by 'many who stay silent'. That being the case, what makes him think this silent majority will suddenly find their voices when it comes to the referendum? In Britain, it's a big enough struggle to get people to come out of their houses to say who they want to run the country, let alone get them to have their say on a different kind of useless grey lump.

Unless Mansel's thinking of starting a reality TV show and giving the refuge a back story where its grandfather (a zebra crossing in Coventry) was badly damaged in a car accident then I don't see too many people making the effort.

Councillor Keith Roberts thinks Councillor Williams should accept the decision because it has already been scrutinised by council watchdogs twice.

Keith says: "Anything else now is costing money.”

Actually, what cost money was installing a road crossing next to a road crossing for £19,000 and then deciding to take it away a couple of years later at the cost of £5,000.

There was simply no need for this situation to arise. Just ask anyone.

Oh, no. Hold on. Don't.

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Comments for: "Blog: Why ask for Smithfield Road refuge opinions now?"


Shrewsbury is littered with failed traffic calming measures which all cause congestion and some add danger. The Smithfield Road Bollards are an excellent example of how well intended people do very silly things which simply do not work and have unforeseen consequences.

Do we learn from these errors NO we spend a million pounds creating chaos on the Northern approaches to benefit no one and deter visitors to the town. The future of the town centre depends on people using it. Congestion and high parking charges deter the visitors.

For anyone to attempt to defend the bollards is grossly irresponsible and casts serious doubt on the judgement of the person doing it. This was a sensible local Councillor but he seems to have lost his marbles on this one. Is it time to retire?

In the event of a local referendum I would look seriously at anyone voting for expenditure on such a stupid issue whilst reducing support to the vulnerable in our society. Every penny counts and the £25K spent on this stupid failed experiment is not money down the drain, its meals on wheels down the drain. Unforgivable.


Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Smithfield Road crossing (and it was a nightmare to get a pushchair safely to the Quarry from the bottom of town before it was there), it has been built. We keep hearing that we are in such financial dire straits that we can't afford real essentials like meals on wheels and hot school dinners and yet apparently this crossing is so important and urgent that it must be tackled immediately, even if that means throwing good money after bad. The only way that money isn't wasted is if it is left alone for the time being. The trouble is, there seems to be limitless funds for anything that the Councillors in charge fancy and it doesn't seem to matter what the rest of us need or think. I'm surprised that Cllr Williams is asking for the public to be asked about the crossing- public consultation in the current climate is a farce, ask anyone at Wakeman, or the Grange Day Centre. The only meaningful local consultation is the May elections.

eva land

[Had we been given a vote, I suspect the answer to the question: 'Would you like us to blow £19,000 installing a pedestrian crossing RIGHT NEXT TO a pedestrian bridge (or, if you will, a 'crossing')?' might have been something along the lines of: 'You can hear yourselves, right?']

As voters I think we have the intelligence to have noticed that THE PEDESTRIAN REFUGE IS NOT NEXT TO A PEDESTRIAN ROAD BRIDGE it is adjacent to a PEDESTRIAN RIVER BRIDGE to take pedestrians over the River Severn.

If you were to use the River bridge to cross Smithfield road you would break both legs jumping from the bridge to the pavement the other side.

That refuge has made it a lot safer travelling by car up Smithfield Road in my view and provides a necessary/vital crossing for pedestrians who otherwise have no help crossing from Morris's Corner right up to the Bus Station.

All the councillors are useless grey lumps who have no qualms about wasting public money because there is no comeback on them. Highways experts should decide this not elected lay people who get their allowances whatever money wasting venture they promote. The Railway Museum being one that comes to mind, the incinerator appeal secondly and the Public Inquiry regarding land in the Town Centre that the council do not even own, thirdly.

Elderly Female Cyclist.

It was also a nightmare trying to turn right on a bike in the middle of two lanes of traffic and even worse a nightmare for wheelchair users coming to the shops from Frankwell Carpark.That overhead bridge has steps remember. I see that for so many people the car still reigns supreme. Shrewsbury is no more congested than Hereford, Leominster, or Worcester. More people on bikes means fewer people clogging up the highway.

The Original Jake

The reality is that the car comes first these days. Most people have to get to work by car, that's just the way it is. It would take a seismic reality shift to change that, so in the mean time solutions must be designed around cars because I'm afraid some Utopian idea of a car-free society is not going to happen.


Why would a wheel chair user park in Frankwell to go to the shops? That's why we have disabled spaces in Raven Meadows and all over the town. Places with disabled access to the shops. If you insist on parking so far out, cross Smithfield road at the pedestrian controlled lights. Crossing the Smithfield road at the bollards in a wheel chair sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

Elderly Female Cyclist

Surely its worse turning right with the bollards as the cars or buses going from Bridge Street to Castle Street or the Bus Station now need to change lanes twice instead of not at all and in particular once in the very section you are talking about. Much more dangerous now.

Some of these reasons are getting really silly now.

However I do agree that an alternative route for cycles would be useful and very possible if cycles could use Mardol two way in a designated lane, or even Hills Lane and Raven Meadows in a designated reverse lane, to avoid the dangerously busy Smithfield Road. That would require thought, planning and consultation “before” implementation.

Eva land and Helen.

It was a crossing to nothing. There are no premises between the Bus Station and the Welsh Bridge both of which are served by pedestrian controlled lights. I'm sure I could manage to get to the Quarry from the north end of town on the flat without risking an uncontrolled crossing of frustrated accelerating motorists who have been restricted by this bottle neck. Just use the safe pedestrian controlled lights at the Welsh Bridge and the Bus Station.

Please note the bollards were put there as a safety measure where no accident had happened. There have been accidents since and traffic jams all day seven days a week to say nothing of threatening complete grid lock as the vehicles backed up into town along Barker Street and down Claremont Hill.

a g bell

Roger, your comment "traffic jams all day seven days a week" just doesn't stack up, have you been there yourself, all day, seven days a week????? I travel that route regularly and that's not my impression as I explained in my previous blog.

a g bell

The belief that this crossing is responsible for causing congestion on the northbound lanes of Smithfield Road is a total myth. I travelled along northbound on the road at "rush hour", to find again, as usual, not a single vehicle in the middle lane beyond the crossing, everything in the inside lane all the way. The middle lane from the crossing to the traffic lights at the Ravens Meadow junction is very lightly used, mainly by buses turning into the bus station. The real congestion is caused by the volume of traffic using the left hand lane since the vast majority of northbound traffic turns left into Chester street with very little continuing up to the lights opposite the station entrance. Removing the refuge will do nothing to reduce the congestion and will leave pedestrians and cyclists to take their lives in their hands to cross the three lane highway. The pedestrian bridge is of no use to anyone wanting to cross Smithfield Road, it links the Frankwell car park and the town only.

Removing the crossing is a disgraceful waste of public money and a retrograde and irresponsible reaction from a council who cave in to the motorists lobby and certain town councillors without a thought for the safety of the vulnerable.

eva land

Unnamed poster,

The majority of crossings in the country are 'uncontrolled' as you call it as are many that allow cars to cross wide and busy roads.

They provide a necessary service to pedestrians who should not be expected to walk from the Welsh Bridge to the Bus Station to access a crossing.

There has not been an increase in accidents on Smithfield Road either. According to the experts, that is highway officers not councillors, speeds have been reduced and the traffics is generally flowing far better.

This should be one of the attractions of the town walking alongside the river.

I'm glad others have acknowledged that Dave Burrows spurious and false description of the pedestrian bridge over the river as a pedestrian bridge for Smithfield Road is entirely misleading.

Fancy becoming a local councillor, Dave?


Eva Land

Twas I, I have to admit but it was a SS bug, it disappeared for some time before appearing without the name.

I agree that the majority of crossings else where are not controlled but this is Shrewsbury where traffic calming comes before relieving congestion and cycles or pedestrians come before cars or lorries. Commerce does not seem to enter into it because shops do not need goods to sell or shoppers to buy them. I find most people press the button and cross before the lights change leaving the traffic halted for ghosts to cross safely. I often wonder if the council has shares in traffic light manufacture and maintenance, or maybe the consultants, they use, are on a back hander.

No you don’t need to walk from the Welsh Bridge to the Bus Station to cross, you can do so at the Welsh Bridge.

I think you will find that there were no accident previous and one since according to the council's report. The consultants have admitted the result was not predicted, in fact it was reversed.

The Traffic has slowed and that is the problem. slowed due to congestion caused by inserting a bottle neck, delaying traffic flows and keeping more cars in the system.

Yes walk the path along it's length, Welsh Bridge to Bus Station with a crossing at each end. Even take a rest next to bread toaster and watch the river flow past. The bollards won't change anything there.

The real solution to all of this is the North West Link Road but that is some way away. There are many other things that will help like properly controlled and co-ordinated traffic lights, DK's Station car park proposal, Better use of public transport by financial incentives etc. The problem is that the council tend to micro manage specific spots rather than stand back and macro manage traffic flows to the benefit of all. The council have got all confused about what they want and how to achieve it. Is it foot fall for the shops or the freedom of movement for pedestrians and cyclists to meander around the town without buying more than they can carry. We need visitor attractions not deterrence and that means visitors must be able to access and park. Traffic jams and expensive parking means less trade, less businesses and less income for the council. Success breeds success so let’s help the town to succeed.

eva land

After visiting the renovation of the Vaughan Mansion on Saturday my OH and decided to walk up Smithfield Road to look at the new hotel. It looks like it will be a strong contender for knocking the Theatre of it's pedestal for ugliness.

Pink fake stone ashlar cladding this time which is a mite more hideous than that used on the Theatre.

Anyway I was really sorry I did not have a camera with me because there were hoards of people emerging from the Bus Station and using the vilified pedestrian refuge. I counted nine huddled together in the middle waiting to get across the other carriageway at one point. No one was run over even though traffic was light and rather fast.

I have no idea who they all were , where they were going, though the Theatre is a guess but what was clear was that they chose to cross there probably because it is far more pleasant walking alongside a garden with an interesting sculpture and by the river than by a Land Rover repair business only to then have to cross at a far, far more difficult junction albeit with a controlled crossing which it seems is hardly ever in favour to pedestrians and on the corner of the Welsh Bridge.

I should imagine Dave Burrows feels a bit of a fool if he has bothered to look at the so called pedestrian bridge over Smithfield Road.

It would be a hell of a drop to jump off that bridge on to the other side of Smithfield Road wouldn't it Dave?