Lowestoft traders united over bridge closure

Traders and civic leaders yesterday formed a united front to encouraging people not to shun Lowestoft town centre as the crippling Bascule Bridge closures come into force.

Traders and civic leaders yesterday formed a united front to encourage people not to shun Lowestoft town centre as the crippling bascule bridge closures come into force.

Their rallying call came in support of shopkeepers who will be open for business as usual, despite being braced for further disruption to their livelihoods.

The bridge, which links the two halves of the town, will be shut from 8pm tomorrow until 6am Tuesday as part of the Highways Agency's £2.3m plan to give its underground equipment a major overhaul.

Contingency plans costing nearly £500,000 have been put in place, including a temporary footbridge to get people over Lake Lothing and park-and-ride services.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: "It is absolutely important for people to realise that although the bridge is going to be closed on Sunday and Monday on some occasions, Lowestoft is fully open for business on every other day and on Saturdays. I really do hope that people will support our town centre by shopping in Lowestoft and spreading the message to other people.

Many shops have made different arrangements for opening times, including music store Morlings in London Road South, which has chosen to shut for the five Mondays of the weekend closures, instead of its usual Thursday closures.

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Manager Terry Newby said: "We feel this will be more practical in the circumstances not only for our customers, but also for our staff who live on the north side of the bridge."

Lowestoft mayor Sally Spore said: "I think it's clear we need to encourage people to look at options available to them with park-and-ride to make sure people still come into Lowestoft to shop. The shopkeepers and businesses want to support Lowestoft and now is the time to support them."

The bridge will also face closures between 8pm on Saturday and 6am on Tuesday on October 27-30, November 3-6, November 17-20 and December 1-4. There will be additional overnight closures on October 25, November 1, 8 and 25 and December 10.

During the closures, free park-and-ride services will operate from the former rifle range in Pakefield to the footbridge and from the Ellough airfield to Beccles railway station where people can continue to Lowestoft by train. Additional pay-and-display parking will be available at Marine Parade in Lowestoft.

Linda Thornton, chief officer at the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce, said: "The footbridge will get people across and the park-and-ride will be operating. It's not a case of avoiding the town."

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