Drive-thru coffee house prompts traffic fears

PLANS to build a drive-through coffee house at a notorious East Lancs junction will make problems at the traffic hotspot even worse, say campaigners.

Fred Bishop says plans to create a drive-through Starbucks next to the Tesco Express at Windle Island will create havoc on roads in the area - despite the US-based firm’s offer to install a pedestrian crossing refuge island in the middle of Rainford Road.

In recent years Mr Bishop, of nearby Crantock Road, has also launched a successful campaign to see off plans for a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant at the same site.

He told the Reporter: “Windle Island is already designated a high-risk accident blackspot, and this development would just make things worse.

“We think it shows a lack of sensitivity to the adjacent St Helens Crematorium too. Funeral corteges are already regularly held up in the traffic congestion around Rainford Road. And, with an outside sitting area proposed, there’s always the possibility that people could be laughing and joking within earshot of bereaved families.

“I also don’t think there is a particular need for it in this area.”

Mr Bishop added: “It’s hard to oppose a plan that could create 20 jobs - particularly in the current economic climate - but surely there’s a better place this could go. The Carr Mill cafe area could be ideal.

“The influx of even more traffic around here would be a nightmare. I already witness the cat and mouse games that go on between motorists around here on a daily basis. Some people create their own rat runs just to avoid the junction.”

Windle councillor Wally Ashcroft agrees with Mr Bishop.

The local Tory leader said: “Nobody is opposed to Starbucks coming to St Helens, but Windle Island is an extremely busy junction. It’s virtually impossible, at peak times, to turn safely from Bleak Hill Road onto Rainford Road.

“To add extra traffic to that equation would cause chaos. A lot of residents are very angry about this. They think it’s a recipe for disaster.

“Another constituent told me she thought it was worth the added traffic for the creation of 20 new jobs. But, personally, I think there are better places this development could go.”

A Starbucks spokeswoman said: “We believe that a drive thru on this vacant site will be a positive addition to the community, creating around 20 local jobs. We would also welcome the opportunity to speak to residents.

“Our partner Euro Garages, who will operate the drive thru under licence, has been working collaboratively with the relevant local authorities who have been supportive of these plans. Customers would mainly come from existing passing traffic.

“The proposed outdoor seating area will be located on the opposite side of the development - away from the crematorium.”