Businesses block road with vehicles in protest over car ban

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

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

A bid to pedestrianise a Norwich street to help its bars and restaurants has taken a new twist amid a protest to stop the move.

Kate Nichols of the Frock Shop and Gail Watling of Red's have parked their cars on the city centre s

Kate Nichols of the Frock Shop and Gail Watling of Red's have parked their cars on the city centre street to prevent the council organising seating. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The owners of some businesses on St Benedicts Street in Norwich have said they will continue to park their vehicles along the road – which is due to ban cars from next week – to the setting up of outdoor seating.

The businesses in question are not those in the hospitality sector, and are concerned about delivery accessibility and health and safety.

MORE: Chef excluded from al fresco seating plans due to crossing - despite road’s closure

Norfolk County Council, which has lead the project said the decision had been made “to balance the needs of all businesses, residents and the wider public”.

But Gail Watling, owner of Red’s newsagents, said: “I don’t have a problem with the pedestrianisation, I have a problem with the way it’s been done. Having looked at the plans it’s going to be a chicane with seating on one side and then the other. I worry about how delivery vehicles and emergency service vehicles will get up and down the street.

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“I don’t have any parking space directly outside my shop and have to move hundreds of cases every week. It might get to the point where I just pack it in.”

The plan was announced earlier this month to support the many restaurants on the road and following public consultation.

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But Kate Nichols, owner of both Post Frocks and the Frock Spot on St Benedicts, added: “We didn’t have enough time to put forward our opinions on it. I have two different sites on this street and one got a leaflet through and the other didn’t - if I didn’t have the other site I wouldn’t have known about it.

“We’re not adverse to change at all – but it’s all been rushed through too quickly and we haven’t managed to get through to anyone at the council.”

Mark Hedge, manager at music store Cookes, said: “We deal in a lot of very heavy items, which in the age of the internet we need to ship overnight or we’re not competing at the same level. We’re already hearing from delivery drivers that they won’t be able to get down our street. We’ve been here since 1968 and this could spell the end of it.”

A spokeswoman from Norfolk County Council 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.

“These are emergency measures that need to be implemented quickly in response to government guidance on active travel and social distancing. The temporary traffic management which has been installed will be closely monitored and we will adjust measures as necessary, as we have done in market towns across Norfolk over the last few weeks.”

Issues around tables and chairs fall under the remit of the city council due to licensing laws.

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