‘We won’t survive’: shops to make formal complaint over ‘disastrous’ car ban
PUBLISHED: 12:56 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 08:29 20 August 2020
Businesses are set to launch a formal complaint against Norfolk County Council over its handling of the pedestrianisation of a city centre street.
A group of St Benedicts Street business owners and staff met ward councillors on Wednesday morning to put across their views, and resolved to contact the Local Government Ombudsman and seek to halt changes.
The road currently has orange plastic barriers erected to allow for tables and chairs to be placed into the road – aimed at increasing revenue for hospitality businesses held back by social distancing compliance.
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “We will look carefully at the detail of any complaint when we receive it and will investigate and respond as appropriate.”
The group of predominantly retail businesses are revolting over a series of issues including accessibility, health and safety, noise and communication. They raised their concerns with ward councillors Danny Douglas and Jamie Osborn at a meeting at Cookes Music Shop.
“This pedestrianisation is being handled by the county council – the decisions being made by people who don’t know our city or our street. I’ve seen a fire engine having to do multiple manoeuvres to get down the street, it just hasn’t been thought through on any account,” said Gail Watling, owner of Red’s newsagents.
“There has been a complete divorce between the councils,” said Gregory Clark, owner of bar Arboretum.
“You can never get hold of anyone. Businesses down one end of the street have been given the option for outdoor seating but not the other.
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“Now we’ve been told that the city council has paid for planters to make the barriers look better so there’s not only preferential but now financial advantage.
“I don’t want anyone to go out of business – far from it. But all we want is for it to be fair and a compromise reached.”
Residents present at the meeting said that they could no longer sleep because of the noise.
“I can’t sleep in my own room anymore because of the noise,” said one individual who wished not to be named. “Apparently there are letters going out to residents but I haven’t had any of them so have had no chance to put my opinion forward.”
Kate Nichols of the Frock Shop said: “I’ve had people falling into my shop because of lorries squeezing towards the pavement and around the barriers. It’s supposed to help with social distancing but instead people are squeezing together to get around them.”
Currently the license for the barriers to remain is in place until September 2021.
“If this goes on that long we won’t be here,” said Mark Hedge, of Cookes. “I’ve been in this business for 34 years and it’s always been tough. But the way in which this has been handled is absolutely disastrous – we won’t survive it unless something changes.”
A spokeswoman from Norfolk County Council previously said: “We recently consulted on the proposed temporary changes, which received overwhelming public support. The consultation was carried out through a range of methods and in our careful consideration of the responses received we need to balance the needs of all businesses, residents and the wider public.”
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