MORE than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on Wirral Council to scrap plans to “waste” £1.1 million reopening all sides of Hamilton Square to traffic.

The authority hopes the scheme will revitalise the area by allowing traffic to access the historic square from all four sides, creating better links between Birkenhead town centre, Hamilton Square and Woodside.

But local residents and businesses have objected to the scheme, fearing it will damage the local economy by stripping essential facilities like convenient parking and ruining the peaceful environment.

The loss of the pedestrian area in front of the town hall – which was closed to traffic as part of the £80m Hamilton Quarter project between 1995 and 2002 – is also a concern, with the are often used for wedding photos and Remembrance Day services.

The “Stop Wirral Council ruining Hamilton Square” petition has so far received 1,193 signatures. A paper copy is currently being put together by Birkenhead Green Party councillor Pat Cleary, who has described the scheme as “crazy”.

Business owner Mark Griffiths, who has recently invested in one of the buildings in Hamilton Square, said the plans will “stifle investment” at a time when businesses are starting to move back into the square.

He said:  “One of the reasons we were so attracted to the square was its quiet setting and easy parking for our coming clients. The scheme will see a net loss of 26 car parking spaces in Hamilton Square, including a reduction of disabled spaces from eight to three.”

The plans were first raised in April last year when David Ball, the council’s head of regeneration and planning, told the Globe the authority hoped to retain the pedestrianised area in front of the town hall.

This is not the case, with the proposals set to see the Hamilton Street and Conway Street junction opened to two-way traffic, and Hinson Street becoming two-way between Hamilton Street and Henry Street.

Traffic would also be able to access the square from Hamilton Street, with alterations to traffic signals at the Bridge Street and Hamilton Street junction.

Mark said his initial reaction to the scheme was “one of horror”.

Wirral Council said the plans will bring “vibrancy” back to the square, something Mark disagrees with.

He said: “If the scheme progresses then it actually makes the square more noisy, polluted and more dangerous to pedestrians. Even if people wanted to stop then they would struggle to do so with the huge loss of parking spaces.”

Two drop-in sessions took place at the start of November but the petition calls the consultation “woefully inadequate”.

“The council officers have tried to tell me that they are simply putting the road back in as it was before, and that the failure of the Hamilton Quarter project has failed to see businesses invest in the square,” said Mark.

“Despite this being a direct kick in the teeth for the likes of ourselves, a company who is investing and creating jobs for local people, it is also out of touch.

“Local property agents Smith and Sons have recently reported that they have overseen the sale of eight Hamilton Square properties in the last three years.

“I understand that the number of private residents living on the square has doubled in the last five years. The council also seem to be oblivious to the fact that the western hemisphere is coming out of one of the biggest economic downturns in recent history.”

Mark added: “We know that Hamilton Square is not without problems, but we think none of them can be solved by putting a new road through it.

“The road makes no sense, serves no purpose, solves no problem and is a huge waste of public money.”

A final decision on the scheme will be made by Wirral’s cabinet members.

A spokesman for the authority said: “There has been considerable interest in these initial proposals and we thank everyone who contributed their views during the recent consultation exercise.

“Feedback from members of the public is always a key element in projects such as this one at Hamilton Square and people’s views will be considered when cabinet makes a decision on how best to take this forward.”

  • To sign the petition, click here.