December 5 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Businesses have welcomed fresh changes to Colchester town centre which they believe will help solve traffic problems and cut pollution but still attract shoppers.
Earlier this year a controversial move to ban traffic from the High Street between 11am and 6pm was scrapped just three weeks into an 18-month trial.
The scheme was fiercely criticised by traders, shoppers and disabled groups. Some businesses said they had seen sales drop by 70%.
Now Essex County Council is planning to re-introduce certain elements of the suspended trial scheme at the beginning of October.
These will be the introduction of 24-hour bus lanes on North Hill southbound, Middleborough, right turn to North Hill, and High Street, right turn to Queen Street.
County councillor Rodney Bass, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “I am very pleased that we are now able to provide further details for the re-introduction of traffic regulation orders for Colchester town centre.
“These are designed to benefit town centre users, and work alongside further improvements planned for Colchester, including the introduction of Park and Ride towards the end of next year.
“We are taking a considered approach to these proposals, and there will be full consultation before any additional measures are introduced.”
Leader of Colchester Borough Council, councillor Anne Turrell said: “I am happy that positive progress is being made towards reducing congestion and improving air quality in Colchester.
“We welcome these steps to help make the town centre an even better place for residents and visitors alike.”
Chairman of Colchester Retail Business Association, Michelle Reynolds said she was pleased that both councils had sat down and looked at the situation “properly and sensibly”.
She said: “Full closure was horrendous – terrible for trade, terrible for people coming into town, terrible for the refuse collections, all sorts of problems.
“The bus lanes will offer solutions for a lot of those problems and it is a good solution at this stage. Park and Ride will shed a whole different light on the town when it comes in September 2014.”
Some people would not be happy, but the changes would include ways of getting round the area so traffic would not be totally banned from town.
She said: “We have got to get the message out that Colchester is open for business and try to attract people back.”
Steve Miller, owner of Millers Stationery and who represents businesses in the St Botolphs Street area of town, said: “I think it is the best news for years. There will be winners and losers, no question about that, and everybody will have to change their ways and look closely at the options for travelling to the town centre.”
He believed bus lanes and reduction in car traffic could reduce exhaust emissions by 75%.
The changes followed positive meetings between the county and borough councils, who say they are committed to working closely on other key strategic highways issues and will also be discussing the new plans with local groups, businesses, public transport operators and residents.