Referendum to be held on Bungay’s £440,000 town centre improvement scheme
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Campaigners opposed to the £440,000 town centre road scheme at Bungay have forced Waveney District Council to hold a referendum on the controversial issue.
The Bungay Road Action Group insist there was not enough consultation and that shopkeepers will lose trade during the work which has already started and is expected to be completed by April.
Members of Bungay Town Council, who have supported the Suffolk County Council enhancement scheme, said the £5,000 cost of the referendum will have to be borne by council tax payers in the town.
It is rare for parish polls on issues such as this to take place with only handful in the county taking place in recent years and this is believed to the first occasion that one is being held at Bungay.
Mike Testro, of the action group and proposer of the referendum, said: 'The road closures are going to kill the commercial heart of the town and the shared space on St Mary's Street is unsafe with vehicles and pedestrians using the same A-road.
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'The work has started but we had less than a week's notice there would be road closures. They could have postponed the works until the referendum had taken place but they ploughed on any way.'
The referendum asks two questions of Bungay residents.
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The first question refers to consultation over the closure of St Mary's Street and the second asks if residents believe town councillors who supported the scheme should resign immediately.
Mayor of Bungay, Judy Cloke, speaking on behalf of the 11 town councillors who supported the county council scheme, said the one way system in the town centre was in place and would not be changed.
'Suffolk County Council and Bungay Town Council responded to safety concerns raised by residents with particular regard to the narrow pavements and heavy traffic in St Mary's Street.
'St Mary's Street will not be 'shared space' as claimed,' she said.
Mrs Cloke said town councillors acted in good faith and made what they believed to be the right decision for the community and for the future of Bungay.
She said there had been lots of consultation with 2,500 leaflets about the scheme posted to every household and business in the town and surrounding parishes.
At an exhibition on the scheme held at the Fisher Theatre 74pc of people who attended supported the scheme.
'The result of the poll is not mandatory and will not result in councillors standing down.
'In view of all the points raised we ask residents to vote and reject the two points in the referendum,' said Mrs Cloke.
• The referendum will be held at Bungay Honeypot Centre, Upper Olland Street, from 4pm to 9pm on Friday, March 7, and will be open to Bungay residents on the register of electors.