'I'll not let it drop:' Campaigner wants others to join fight to re-open Frenchgate at night over 'longer walk' row

Mr O'Brien wants the Frenchgate Centre re-opened at night.
Mr O'Brien wants the Frenchgate Centre re-opened at night.

A campaigner who has launched a one-man crusade to re-open a route through the Frenchgate Centre at night because rail and bus passenger face a longer walk wants others to join his fight and has vowed not to let the matter drop.

Andrew O'Brien was left fuming after he discovered that his normal route he has taken through the shopping centre ' for years' was closed and he had to take a longer route which caused him to miss his bus.

The red route originally taken by passengers to the interchange and the new yellow route which passengers now have to take.

The red route originally taken by passengers to the interchange and the new yellow route which passengers now have to take.

Now he is calling on others to join his campaign and says he will fight on - no matter how long it takes.

He said: "I'm not prepared to let the matter drop. They have closed off an historic right of way and the new route is much longer and an inconvenience to passengers. Whether it takes a month or a year, I will fight on and get it re-opened. I won't give up."

The centre's malls linking St Sepulchre Gate with Doncaster railway station and the interchange on Trafford Way have historically been kept open at night to allow passengers to catch trains and buses.

But in recent weeks, bosses have locked the doors between 8pm and 7am over what Mr O'Brien claims he has been told are 'security issues' and he says that passengers heading for the transport interchange now face a longer walk, outdoors along West Laith Gate.

Before the closure, people using the route at night would enter the shopping centre through the doors alongside Crawshaws butchers and exit at the other side along Sainsbury's before using the pedestrian crossing on Trafford Way to reach the railway station and transport interchange.

The new route sees travellers passing the Tut 'n' Shive pub on West Laith Gate, passing the rear of Sainsbury's and using the same crossing to complete their route to the station.

Another route through the centre, which sees passengers enter near Patisserie Valerie and exit near the food court to the Interchange, has also been closed off.

Said Mr O'Brien: "It came to light when I had been out in Doncaster for the night a few weeks ago. I went to catch my bus and found the doors locked.

"By the time I had walked the much longer route along West Laith Gate, I had missed my bus and that made me pretty angry. To older and disabled people, that route isn't acceptable. It is outdoors, it is about four to five minutes longer and it isn't a nice or safe route to take in my opinion."

"When I complained they told me it was because of security issues in the current terrorist climate but frankly to me, that sounds nonsense."

Mr O'Brien has taken his battle to the Frenchgate, Doncaster Council and Mayor Ros Jones to get the route reinstated and has now called on other angry and upset passengers to contact him to boost his campaign.

He has also asked the Friends of The Grand Theatre group, the campaign group which wants to re-open The Grand Theatre, which is also accessed by the route, to support his drive.

He added: "I am sure lots of people will be angry about what's happened. We need to get the word out there that this is just not right."

Paddy Mellon, general manager at Frenchgate, said that the centre’s St Sepulchre Gate entrance is open from 8pm to 10pm, seven days a week.

Anyone who wants to support Mr O'Brien's campaign can email him at ajob1967@hotmail.co.uk