Controversial Bungay one way system to be given six month trial
A PLAN to introduce a controversial one-way system in Bungay town centre is to be given a trial.
Suffolk County Council has announced that for at least six months there will be a one-way system introduced, with traffic sent north along St Mary's Street and Lower Olland Street and south along Trinity Street and Wharton Street.
However, campaigners against the heavily-debated proposal have said the move will turn the town into a 'chaotic mess'.
The town council, Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Waveney District Council and county councillor David Richie have all been backing the scheme after a public consultation in December 2010 supported a one-way system for St Mary's Street.
However, an opposition group has been fighting the proposal and has highlighted a number of concerns, including a lack of visibility for some shops. Now the county council has announced that it will introduce the trial for at least six months, once an independent study has been carried out into the suitability of Trinity Street being part of a one-way system.
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This is likely to be complete by the end of March, allowing the scheme to potentially be introduced in April.
It will then be monitored before a final decision is made, but during this time it will be able to be changed or removed at short notice.
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Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder responsible for roads, planning and transport, said: 'We think this scheme will hugely improve the built environment for Bungay and create a much more inviting shopping and pedestrian environment which, in time, will attract more visitors to the town.
'The changes are a trial and the county council will be monitoring it closely to see where it can be further improved to benefit everyone. During the trial period, I urge the public to give us feedback on the scheme.'
Terry Reeve, town mayor, added: 'Bungay Town Council is pleased that the scheme is going ahead. We do understand people's concerns and opposition to the scheme, but do believe that those concerns can be addressed by the design of the scheme.
'Implementing a trial order will allow us to understand how the scheme will work and make any adjustments if needed.'
Campaigners against the scheme, which is part of Suffolk County Council's Local Transport Plan, have used petitions and a traffic survey to back their argument.
Bob Prior, who has been one of the campaigners, said he was devastated and added that it was a very sad day for the town.
'It is simply the wrong decision and it won't take long to prove we are right - and sadly we don't want to be proved right,' he said.
He added that he was very proud of the support they had received, with 1,245 signatures on a petition and only four businesses of 79 surveyed backing the move.
Jane Wightman, of furniture store H Wightman & Son Ltd, in Trinity Street, said the decision was unbelievable and she said the businesses felt extremely let down by the town council.
She said: 'We feel this will have a detrimental effect on our businesses in an already fragile environment and will ultimately result in the loss of more shops.'
The scheme is part of a wider proposal for the market town that aims to improve the area for shoppers and visitors.
Plans include new pavements in Lower Olland Street, wider paths in St Mary's Street and a new entrance into Wharton Street car park.