PASSENGERS won’t be able to catch buses and taxis in Taunton’s Castle Green when virtually all traffic is shortly barred from the area.

But concerns have been expressed after the cost of converting the former car park zone into a public open space shot up by £200,000 more than original envisaged.

The remaining work inv-olves moving the taxi rank to Hammet Street and bus stops to the Old Municipal Buildings in Corporation Street, with the area becoming an access-only route.

Castle Way will be closed, and paving and landscaping will be extended up to the Mecca bingo building.

The taxi rank opposite the bus station will remain.

Most of the Castle Green scheme, including grass and paving areas, seating, landscaping and a bridge connecting to Goodland Gardens, was completed this autumn and opened by the Earl of Wessex.

It is staging several pre-Christmas events and the project should be completed before next summer.

A small number of defects and a ramp for disabled access to the grassed area should be corrected by Christmas.

Taunton Deane Council leader Cllr John Williams said: “This will be the final piece of what has been a very complex jigsaw puzzle which will truly complete the restoration of this historic square.

“I welcome it and the facility it offers for Taunton, and if the recent successful fun day and light switch-on ceremony are anything to go by our plans for a successful and vibrant town centre square were a reality.”

A report to next week’s full council says the £2.6million Government-funded scheme will end up £200,000 over budget due to delays because of the weather, archaeological excavations, delays relocating the bus stops and the cost of new bus shelters to ensure that they are in keeping with the conservation area where they will be sited.

Cllr Ian Morrell said: “A £200,000 overspend demonstrates poor management.

“As the focus for Taunton should be the creation of jobs and boosting the economy, it’s now time those who spearheaded this unnecessary project considered their position.”