Call for Southwold roadworks to be delayed as Latitude looms
Traders who claim roadworks coinciding with Latitude Festival will cause chaos for local business have handed in a petition hoping councillors can delay the work.
Businesses in Southwold, just four miles from Henham Park where the festival gets underway on Thursday, have already condemned plans to start major roadworks on Southwold High Street on Monday, July 18 - the day thousands of people leaving the festival site will descend on local roads.
Tonight, just as Latitude organisers Festival Republic warned people to be wary of heavy traffic around the site throughout the weekend, Southwold Town Council will meet to consider a petition handed in by local traders.
Nick Williams, who runs Serendipity gift shop on the high street, led the petition. He hopes town councillors will 'put pressure' on Suffolk County Council to postpone the works.
He said: 'This is an attempt to salvage a situation at the 11th hour.
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'I don't know if it will work, but we are looking to the town council to try and reason with Suffolk council.
'Trade is not easy at the best of times and this year has had a shaky start. All of us on the high street are going to struggle to have a good season and the last thing we need is for the high street to close for three days.'
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Traders claim the work, part of a scheme to temporarily move a bus stop on the popular shopping strip, will deter festival-goers from visiting the town.
'There is always an influx the day after Latitude,' said Mr Williams.
'A lot of people leave the festival and come here before heading home. A lot of us rely on that trade, particu-larly the eating establishments.
'If people find themselves sat in a queue of traffic they will turn around and not bother.'
A spokesman for Suffolk council said the authority had chosen to start work on July 18 as it was the day after the festival, but before schools are due to break up.
Festival Republic said it was working closely with Suffolk's highways department to try and ease congestion, minimise disruption and ensure regular road users are affected as little as possible throughout the festival weekend.
Extra transport will be laid on with shuttle buses running from Halesworth and Diss train stations and a special bus service taking people between Southwold and the site.
Most visitors are still expected to arrive by car. Peak traffic flows are expected on the A12 northbound and the A145 southbound throughout Thursday and Friday morning, on Sunday and Monday morning. Temporary speed limits of 30mph and no stopping orders will be in force along sections of the A145, A12 and the B1123 and will be enforced by Suffolk police throughout the festival weekend.
An estimated 35,000 people a day are expected to attend this year's festival.