Talks held on car-ban plan

Opposing sides in a pedestrianisation battle in North Walsham have held formal talks for the first time. But those against the plan say they will not budge unless they see new evidence to show the move will not damage trade.

Opposing sides in a pedestrianisation battle in North Walsham have held formal talks for the first time.

But those against the plan say they will not budge unless they see new evidence to show the move will not damage trade.

The idea of closing the market place to all but delivery vehicles on a Saturday was raised at a recent town council meeting as a way of creating a more pleasant shopping experience.

Since then traders have launched a vociferous campaign against the proposal, backed up by hundreds of their customers.

The total number of signatures on a town petition calling for the plan to be shelved has now reached 1,200 and the petitions are still being put out in shops, say campaigners.

Their concerns centre on the loss of the half-hour car parking spots in the market place and a subsequent loss of trade.

Most Read

Traders' representatives met officers from Norfolk County Council in the last few days thanks to the intervention of county councillor Paul Morse.

Mr Morse said the meeting involved ten traders and two council officers and saw a "frank exchange of views".

"Both parties now have a much clearer understanding of where the other side is coming from," said Mr Morse.

"One of the biggest challenges at this stage is to make sure everyone talks to each other so everyone has an understanding of different perspectives."

Mr Morse said the meeting cleared up a number of points, including confirmation that any pedestrianisation scheme was still some way off and a pledge that traders would be consulted in advance, which was not the original message put out to the public.

He added: "I think the whole idea is worth exploring, but the key thing now is discussion and dialogue."

Colin Page, who has been at the forefront of the traders' campaign and runs Page's Tobacconist and Confectioners, said the new message about guaranteed consultation was very welcome, but added: "Our opposition has not changed at all.

"We have had nothing shown to us so far that would make us feel differently.

"Mr Morse's intervention has been very helpful, but the way we see it, whatever way this is done, if it is done, it will lead to loss of trade. There have been various suggestions to help it work, but we don't see it making sense in any way.

"But we are happy to keep talking about it."

Mr Morse has said he will organise a further meeting, this time between representatives of the town council and some of the traders, set to be in the first week of September.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter