Red light for King’s Lynn traders’ call to open bus route for cars during major roadworks

Traders in King's Lynn last night made a last-ditch plea for Norfolk County Council to open a bus lane to cars to help reduce traffic congestion during major resurfacing works in the town.

They claim opening the �1.5m bus lane at Harding's Way to smaller vehicles would also help reduce the impact on businesses when work begins on London Road, the main route into Lynn, tomorrow.

But Norfolk County Council has ruled out this option for the roadworks, which are set to cause 18 days of delays and jams in the town, because officials are concerned a 'pinchpoint' would see large vehicles getting stuck.

Bernadette Chappell, owner of Deck of Cards in High Street, said: 'Seeing as these works are taking place during the day and not at night, I think the bus lane should be opened to cars while the main road into town is closed.

'The speed limit could be set at 20mph and there could even be a policeman put there to make sure larger vehicles don't go down there. I think traders here would even be willing to put some money towards helping keep the route open to cars during these works.'

She continued: 'If it isn't opened, I believe people are going to stop coming into Lynn and we are all going to lose a lot of trade at a time when we are all struggling.

'We are competing against other good towns and cities around us and if people start going there because of these works then they might not come back.'

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Andrew Wilson, who runs the Ikon store on New Conduit Street with wife Sarah, added: 'I believe opening the bus route would solve the problem for people getting into town and it would only be for a couple of weeks.

'I doesn't get used enough as it is and it would have been the ideal solution and simple answer to the problem and so many people have said that to me.

'I think these roadworks will deter people coming into town from that direction and a couple of my staff will have to leave half an hour earlier to get into work but if the bus route was opened, it would be perfect for them.'

Meanwhile Linda Howe, managing director of Pastimes in Tower Street, said: 'It is a difficult time for us and these works are going to have a big impact on traders in the town but we do understand it is work that has to be done so we will just have to grin and bear it.

'I just hope people check the other routes available to them to get into town and that they use them and are not put off shopping here.'

Norfolk Green managing director Ben Colson said there had been a 'large and long debate' about opening the bus route to cars but added that it was the county council's decision.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said the opening of the bus lane on Harding's Way was 'looked at in detail' and added that the authority had been lobbied by businesses to open the route to cars.

But the spokesman said: 'We could have done it just for smaller vehicles but we knew if we had just one large vehicle ignore the 'small vehicle only' signs it would have got stuck as there's a pinch point along there which is still be dealt with.

'It is considered to great a risk to use it because if one vehicle beomces stuck there, the whole area would be gridlocked. We prefer the option which uses Vancouver Avenue.'

The work on London Road and some of its side is needed because Norfolk County Council says the surface of the busy routes is literally wearing out.

Restrictions will include the main London Road being open only to traffic leaving town, while it and nearby St James Road are resurfaced between Sunday and Wednesday, April 18. The overall work in the area is set to cause disruption until April 28.

During the works, thousands of vehicles which use London Road each day will instead use Vancouver Avenue, Tennyson Road, Gaywood Road, Littleport Street and Blackfriars Road.

The county council, however, has announced that roadworks will banned for up to five years on the two busy roads in Lynn barring emergency work.

Graham Plant, county council cabinet member for planning and transportation, revealed the authority's intentions earlier this week.

He added: 'Once complete, King's Lynn will have a high-quality surface on a key route into the town. The old surface is wearing out, and if it is not replaced there will be an increasing risk of potholes and other problems.

'We can avoid that happening – and all the disruption of urgent roadworks – by this major resurfacing scheme, which represents an investment of �625,000 in King's Lynn's roads.'

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