September 2 2014 Latest news:
By Amy Smith
Friday, March 7, 2014
People in Bungay have the chance to vote on the controversial £440,000 town centre improvement scheme today.
Last month more than 30 residents, including members of the Bungay Road Action Group, forced Waveney District Council to hold a referendum, insisting that there had not been enough consultation and that shopkeepers had been losing trade as a result of the road closures.
The referendum will ask residents two questions: 1) If there was enough consultation over the closure of St Mary’s Street and (2) if town councillors who supported the scheme should resign immediately.
The road closures are part of the five-phase project announced by Suffolk County Council in December, which includes making the town’s controversial one-way system permanent.
At present St Mary’s Street is closed to widen and re-pave the footways on either side to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists. It is set to reopen on March 27, when the next phase will begin.
Mike Testro, part of the action group and the proposer of the referendum, said: “The road closures are going to kill the commercial heart of the town and the shared space on St Mary’s Street is unsafe with vehicles and pedestrians using the same A-road.
“The work has started but we had less than a week’s notice there would be road closures. They could have postponed the works until the referendum had taken place but they ploughed on anyway.”
However Bungay mayor Judy Cloke, speaking on behalf of the 11 town councillors who supported the county council scheme, said councillors acted in good faith and made what they believed to be the right decision for the community and for the future of Bungay.
She said that if the poll decided that they should stand down they were not legally required to do so.
She added: “Suffolk County Council and Bungay Town Council responded to safety concerns raised by residents with particular regard to the narrow pavements and heavy traffic in St Mary’s Street.
“St Mary’s Street will not be ‘shared space’ as claimed.”
The referendum will be held at Bungay Community Centre in Upper Olland Street from 4pm to 9pm today and is open to Bungay residents on the register of electors.
As part of the scheme several roads in Bungay will be closed overnight for resurfacing.
The first closure will be from Priory Lane north to Market Place roundabout in two shifts on March 14 from 5pm and on March 17 from 5pm. Next will be Priory Lane south to Lower Olland Street on March 18 from 5pm. The final closure will be in Trinity Street and Market Place from March 31 during the night for one week. During these times there will be no through access and diversion routes will be in place.