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Ideas welcomed for town centre events following road closure

PUBLISHED: 16:01 08 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:01 08 September 2020

New Market, in Beccles, was closed following the coronavirus outbreak. PHOTO: Sonya Duncan

New Market, in Beccles, was closed following the coronavirus outbreak. PHOTO: Sonya Duncan

Ideas are being welcomed for a town centre area closed to cars following the coronavirus outbreak.

New Market, in Beccles, was closed following the coronavirus outbreak. PHOTO: Sonya DuncanNew Market, in Beccles, was closed following the coronavirus outbreak. PHOTO: Sonya Duncan

New Market, in Beccles, was closed to traffic earlier this year in a bid to help shoppers safely socially distance while queueing for town centre businesses.

Yet the plans proved controversial, with some business owners claiming the experimental traffic order, was keeping people away from the town.

Following a public consultation and discussions with local businesses, Beccles Town Councillors approved plans to change the order last month, which will see the road reopen on Monday to Thursdays.

The change will free up 23 parking spaces, before the road closes again for the Friday market and weekend.

New Market, in Beccles, was closed following the coronavirus outbreak. PHOTO: Sonya DuncanNew Market, in Beccles, was closed following the coronavirus outbreak. PHOTO: Sonya Duncan

Now, councillors are inviting residents, communnity groups and businesses to submit ideas as to how to safely use the space on weekends in the months ahead.

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Mayor Ashley Lever said: “We are asking the public for suggestions for what this space could be used for over the weekends while it is closed to traffic.

“Covid-19 has changed the way that many of us behave and this includes our shopping and leisure time habits. This gives us an opportunity to try out new ideas to attract visitors and residents to the town centre.

Beccles Mayor Ashley Lever. PHOTO: ZoomBeccles Mayor Ashley Lever. PHOTO: Zoom

“If we can get people in and encourage them to linger, then this would help boost local retailers and hospitality businesses as well.

“If events such as themed markets, art exhibitions, community open days etc are successful, then they could become a regular feature.”

Councillors have recently met with officers from Suffolk County Council (SCC) about the changes, with options being considered including leaving existing planters in place and installing gates between them at both ends of New Market.

Mr Lever said: “We had a very positive meeting with SCC officers and they have now gone away to draw up draft plans and start the legal work that will be required to make the changes to the experimental order.”

Any ideas are welcomed by emailing admin@beccles.info or by calling 01502 712 109.

Any events taking place will need to comply with relevant government guidelines surrounding coronavirus.


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