BUS lanes in Halesowen are to be suspended for an 18-month trial period in a bid to ease traffic congestion.

The move comes two-and-a-half years after Dudley Council indicated the lanes would be removed and after protracted talks with Centro, which is against the plan.

But Dudley Council’ s highways chief Councillor Khurshid Ahmed said the trial period would go ahead despite objections from the public transport authority.

Signs will go up in the next few weeks informing motorists that they can drive in the inbound bus lane on Queensway and the outbound bus lane on Bromsgrove Street.

If the trial is successful in improving traffic flow the bus lanes will be scrapped permanently, but they could be re-instated if the concerns of public transportation are not addressed Cllr Ahmed said: “During this time, we will be continually assessing the impact of this on traffic in the area and public transport access to the nearby bus station and town centre.

“We will also continue to work with Centro throughout the process to ensure bus travel remains a top priority."

Frustrated motorists have long-argued for the bus lanes to scrapped, saying they have been unnecessary since the bus station opened.

Cllr Ahmed advised motorists not to drive in the bus lanes until the suspension signs go up as they could still risk fines.

Campaigner Nick Gregory, of Howley Grange Road, who lobbied councillors, Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris and the local media, said: "I am obviously elated by the news that Dudley Council have conceded that, after many years, that the bus lanes in Halesowen serve no benefit to the local community.

"It has not been easy fight to overturn a decision by the council, and most people would have walked away, but having lived here for over 30 years, this was the worst decision I have seen in respect of trade for Halesowen.

"I regularly use the town for shopping, but at certain times of the day, I am sure a lot of people avoid it because of the back log of traffic. Rather than becoming a congestion black spot, so that people shop elsewhere, we need to regenerate and bring more income into the town."