A U-turn over a traffic ban in a city centre street was an "avoidable shambles", according to the boss of The Forum in Norwich.

Eastern Daily Press: Exchange Street in NorwichExchange Street in Norwich (Image: Denise Bradley)

Tim Bishop, The Forum's chief executive, welcomed Norfolk County Council's decision to abandon the traffic ban in Exchange Street, but said the scheme had been poorly conceived and managed.

Eastern Daily Press: Tim Bishop, chief executive of The Forum in NorwichTim Bishop, chief executive of The Forum in Norwich (Image: Norwich Forum)

And Mr Bishop said he feared the council's move to hold meetings about Norwich road schemes in private, rather than public, would be a barrier to getting a good traffic strategy in place for the city.

Eastern Daily Press: Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructureGraham Plant, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure (Image: Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk)

Graham Plant, County Hall cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure decided this week - without consultation - to overturn the ban, which had triggered queues, conflict and protests.

Mr Bishop welcomed the U-turn, but said: "It was an avoidable shambles. Exchange Street felt and looked like a road.

"Unless they were going to completely shut it and pedestrianise it, it was always going to be a problem.

"I think everyone accepts that the way traffic uses the city needs to change in the face of climate change.

"We need to find better ways of managing that. But the way not to do it is to close off a road without any mitigation, as that leads to the chaos and difficulties we've seen."

Eastern Daily Press: The Forum in NorwichThe Forum in Norwich (Image: Archant)

Mr Bishop questioned how a good strategy for the city centre would be formulated, given Mr Plant scrapped the Transport for Norwich advisory committee - pitting County Hall and Norwich City Council at loggerheads.

Eastern Daily Press: Exchange Street in NorwichExchange Street in Norwich (Image: Newsquest)

That committee met publicly to discuss Norwich road schemes, but Mr Plant - after protesting Labour councillors walked out of a meeting - scrapped it in favour of a private steering group saying that would enable him to make better decisions.

Mr Bishop said: "The way decisions are now being made is at odds with everything I have known for 40 or so years.

"This is a time when we need more scrutiny of decisions the council is making, not less."

Eastern Daily Press: Green city and county councillor Jamie OsbornGreen city and county councillor Jamie Osborn (Image: Submitted)

Jamie Osborn, Green city and county councillor for Mancroft ward, said: "Allowing cars back on Exchange Street is a decision that will undo efforts to try and make Norwich a cleaner, greener and more pleasant place."