Bury St Edmunds: Town centre street ban could be lifted

MOTORING restrictions in a key town centre street could be dropped wholesale, council chiefs have confirmed.

Only public transport and delivery vehicles are allowed to use the granite-surfaced St Andrew’s Street South, in Bury St Edmunds.

The street section is a key pedestrian area for those walking between the Arc shopping centre and Bury’s historic core.

However, despite the decade-old restrictions preventing other motorists from using St Andrew’s Street South, about 69,000 people drive down the street illegally each year.

Last year, police issued 12 penalty tickets to those caught using the road illegally.

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The council’s Bury St Edmunds Working Party is currently looking at ways of dealing with the issue.

Last night, party chairman Robert Everitt confirmed the idea of dropping the restrictions was among the options being considered.

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He said: “The idea is still on the cards. There comes a point where we have to say to people ‘look, we can only do so much’. We do need to look carefully at the safety needs of people getting across the road.

“But we are often called a “nanny state”. At the end of the day both drivers and pedestrians have to take responsibility for crossing the road.”

He said using rising bollards – similar to those used in Cambridge – to enforce the current regulations was likely to prove both too costly and too complicated.

Talks are to be carried out with taxi drivers, bus firms and the general public before a decision is made.

“We are unlikely to arrive at something that will please everybody,” said Mr Everitt. “But our eventual scheme will be based on what everybody has told us.”

However, Abbeygate councillor Paul Farmer is urging the council to keep some form of restrictions in place and for them to be properly signed and enforced. He said: “On average there are four illegal vehicle movements every 10 minutes, so whenever the police or PCSOs are in the area, even briefly, they could deter or catch offenders. There is also a case for warning pedestrians that they are crossing a road used by vehicles.

“Fixed and well-signed crossing points would help them and motorists to share the street safely.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police, which has been involved in enforcing the restrictions, said: “We are attending a meeting with the council on this subject later in the week, so it would be inappropriate to comment prior to hearing any proposals and outside the proper forum.”

A decision as to what measures will be brought in is expected to be announced in the next few months.

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