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Town centre roads to reopen following trader protests

PUBLISHED: 17:19 29 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:32 29 July 2020

Bob White, owner of Showcase Gallery, leads protests against North Walsham road closures. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Bob White, owner of Showcase Gallery, leads protests against North Walsham road closures. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

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A town centre’s roads will reopen next week after petitions and protests from traders.

Bob White, owner of Showcase Gallery, leads protests against North Walsham road closures. Picture: Casey Cooper-FiskeBob White, owner of Showcase Gallery, leads protests against North Walsham road closures. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

North Walsham Market Place will reopen to traffic from next Monday, August 3, after roads originally closed on July 6 in order to “encourage residents and visitors to be able to shop safely in North Walsham, while maintaining appropriate social distancing” according to North Norfolk District Council.

On Monday, the three disabled parking spaces in the town centre will reopen, however some normal parking spaces will be lost in order to make space for customers queuing outside the Lloyds and Santander banks.

Bob White, who owns Showcase Gallery, has been leading protests against the closure along with a petition which has reached over 1000 signatures, and an open letter signed by 29 town centre businesses.

Mr White said he welcomed the reopening but still had his concerns.

He said: “I’m very pleased, particularly for the disabled, they shouldn’t have had four weeks of inconvenience which was completely unnecessary so the disabled people have done well and I think that’s the right thing to do.

Bob White, owner of Showcase Gallery, leads protests against North Walsham road closures. Picture: Casey Cooper-FiskeBob White, owner of Showcase Gallery, leads protests against North Walsham road closures. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

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“I don’t think the council should have any praise for doing this though, I think that’s the very least they could do.

“If these measures are to fight COVID and enable social distancing to take place, then how do the planters and picnic tables they’ve put in parking spaces achieve that? The aim of the council is to enable social distancing yet by having picnic tables they are encouraging the opposite.”

He added: “Picnic tables are for parks, and they are now proving themselves in my opinion as anti-business.”

Bob White, owner of Showcase Gallery, leads protests against North Walsham road closures. Picture: Casey Cooper-FiskeBob White, owner of Showcase Gallery, leads protests against North Walsham road closures. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Eric Seward, county councillor for North Walsham and district council deputy leader, said: “The district council always promised that, given the quick way that these emergency measures had to be introduced, they would be kept under review.

“The council welcomes the feedback it has received and it has included very differing views on whether Market Place should remain closed or be reopened. In the end it was decided that improvements could be made to socially distancing measures in Market Place that would both help the shops as well as keep people safe.”

The council said the current measures would remain under review.


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