Updated: Wednesday, 8th April 2020 @ 6:44pm

Car-free party zone: Manchester's Gay Village set for pedestrianisation at weekends to protect revellers

Car-free party zone: Manchester's Gay Village set for pedestrianisation at weekends to protect revellers

By Phoebe Hurst

Starting tonight, Manchester’s Gay Village will be a car-free zone.

As part of a Manchester City Council road safety scheme, the busy stretch of Sackville Street that includes Canal Street and junctions with Brazil Street and Richmond Street will be made a pedestrian-only area during weekend nights.

The area will be blocked with bollards between 8.30pm and 5.40am and accessible only for emergency vehicles. 

The scheme is being backed by local businesses and Greater Manchester Police who say it will reduce the number of road accidents in the area.

Chief Inspector Sarah Jones from the North Manchester Division said that safety was the driving force behind the new scheme.

She said: "The city centre has a vibrant night life and our top priority is to ensure that people are safe.

“For this reason, we welcome the pedestrianisation scheme, which adds to the safety of the village.”

Anthony Ramscar often visits the Gay Village at weekends but said that he had not experienced problems with cars.

“I think generally people come before cars around here anyway so I can’t see the pedestrianisation scheme making much of a difference.

If there’s a car in front of me on a Friday night, it’s not going anywhere!” he said.

Another fan of the Gay Village, Jacob Senior, said he was in favour of the new scheme but raised the issue of access for taxis in the area. 

“I think it’s a good idea but I’m unsure about taxis.

“There would still have to be easy access for people wanting to get picked up,” he said.

The city council also hopes that the new road safety scheme, which is being paid for using money from the city council's parking service, will encourage more people to visit there.

Councillor Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council’s executive member for neighbourhood services, said:

"Manchester’s Gay Village attracts thousands of people from all over the world to the city centre, and this scheme will encourage even more visitors to come and enjoy the excellent pubs and clubs we have on offer, while it was also improve road safety for people visiting the village."

Bringing more tourism to the area was also a priority for the Village Business Association (VBA) when they backed the pedestrianisation scheme in October last year.

Andrew Stokes, chair of the Village Business Association, said:

"The geographical layout of the village and the proximity to each other of so many of the city’s LGBT businesses is one of Manchester’s biggest tourism and night time economy assets.

“Any policy that supports and improves that product has the backing of the VBA."

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