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Businesses push council to review car ban on city centre street

PUBLISHED: 17:58 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:49 15 July 2020

Mark Hedge says the planning to ban cars on St Benedicts should be reconsidered. Picture: Archant

Mark Hedge says the planning to ban cars on St Benedicts should be reconsidered. Picture: Archant

Archant

Frustrated business owners are urging the council to rethink plans to ban cars on a city centre street.

Mark Hedge of Cooke's music store. Picture: ArchantMark Hedge of Cooke's music store. Picture: Archant

Frustrated business owners are urging the council to rethink plans to ban cars on a city centre street.

St Benedicts Street in Norwich city centre was due to see a ban on vehicles to aid businesses which needed more space to bring in vital revenue.
Currently tables and chairs have not been put on to the street – though plastic barriers have been erected.

However, where the news was welcomed by hospitality businesses which could increase their covers, shops that relied on couriers were concerned about the measures.

Orange barricades up St Benedicts Street in Norwich. Picture: submittedOrange barricades up St Benedicts Street in Norwich. Picture: submitted

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Norfolk County Council has confirmed that councillors are “reviewing whether further measures are required based on the feedback received”.
Councillor Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure said: “These emergency measures were implemented at speed across the whole county in response to government guidance from the Department for Transport. The measures are being monitored and adjusted as necessary.

“Officers from both councils are liaising closely with local businesses and residents to address any issues as they arise.”

One business which has been opposed to the plans throughout is Cookes music shop.

Manager Mark Hedge said: “It was never about being anti-pedestrianisation, it was the lack of planning that has gone into this. It’s already had an impact on our business. To July 9 last year we had billed almost £6,000. For the same period this year we’ve billed £90 – it could simply be the end of us.

“I think a compromise could be having tables and chairs out there from 6pm onwards – meaning restaurants can have dinner service outside but shops can have access during the day.”

Kate Nichols, who owns the Frock Spot in St Benedict’s, added: “Trading is awful since the council and highways intervened with their confusing signage and ugly orange barriers. Worst of all footfall has decreased.”

Despite the pedestrianisation being a potential lifeline for hospitality businesses, they agreed that the planning had caused problems.

Hannah Springham of Farmyard, who advocated for the car ban on the street, said: “We lobbied the council for months to start having these conversations with us and didn’t hear anything back. Then it seems to have all been rushed through in a week or so – it’s ludicrous. The barriers are very ugly and we’ve been told they may improve – but we’ll see.

“I think we can all agree that we want to keep as many businesses as possible open on this street.”


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