From 'give us a break' to 'I much prefer it': Mixed views over road closure

St John's Street in Bury St Edmunds being closed until the end of April

Some business owners, like Catherine Winn (top), of Clear to Sea, and Marcia Riddington, of Smoking Monkey Antiques, are concerned about St John's Street being closed until the end of April - Credit: Mariam Ghaemi

A shop owner is concerned CityFibre works that have shut a central street could "seriously" impact her business - while other traders have welcomed the closure.

Catherine Winn opened zero-waste shop Clear to Sea in independent shopping destination St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, in 2019, but is worried in a "make or break" year for her business the road closure will lead to less footfall.

Catherine Winn, owner of zero-waste shop Clear to Sea, said this is a crucial year for her business' survival 

Catherine Winn, owner of zero-waste shop Clear to Sea, said this is a crucial year for her business' survival - Credit: Mariam Ghaemi

CityFibre and Telec Networks roadworks have shut the street to traffic until the end of April, which has led to some traders like Mrs Winn to voice concerns, but others feel the closure would encourage shoppers to come down.

Mrs Winn said having had just over two years of Covid, digging up the road could affect her trade "quite seriously".

The top of St John's Street, which will be closed until April 24 while CityFibre works are underway 

St John's Street, which will be closed until April 24 while CityFibre works are underway - Credit: Mariam Ghaemi

She added: "Covid just knocked businesses to the ground, and I was a new business. I fought my way through Covid and now this.

"I thought 'I've got to build my business back up this year or I'm not going to survive'. 

"For the road to be closed for two months in spring when we are not having to wear masks and restrictions have been lifted, it's just going to put people off."

She added: "Give us a break!"

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She said the closure would give the wrong message that businesses were also shut.

Marcia Riddington, owner of Smoking Monkey Antiques, is concerned about the cumulative impact of roadworks around the town

Marcia Riddington, owner of Smoking Monkey Antiques, is concerned about the cumulative impact of roadworks around the town putting people off coming in - Credit: Mariam Ghaemi

Marcia Riddington, who runs Smoking Monkey Antiques in the street, also had worries over the impact on footfall and trade.

She added: "I think there should be something at the top saying the shops are still open. I think that might help."

But she also had wider concerns about roadworks around the town putting people off coming in.

St John's Street in Bury St Edmunds is known for its independent shops

St John's Street in Bury St Edmunds is known for its independent shops - Credit: Mariam Ghaemi

'I think it will be nice'

Will Hunter, of Vinyl Hunter record café in St John's Street, is all for pedestrianising the road on Saturdays, so welcomed the closure.

"It's dangerous with the traffic and people speeding down here every day," he said. "I think it will be nice [with the closure] and people will be more encouraged to come down here now.

"It won't be a danger to come down here with a young child."

Will Hunter of of Vinyl Hunter record café backs full pedestrianisation of St John's Street on Saturdays

Will Hunter of Vinyl Hunter record café backs full pedestrianisation of St John's Street on Saturdays - Credit: Mariam Ghaemi

In 2020 a proposal to shut the street to traffic on Saturdays to boost trade received a mixed response from businesses and is currently off the table.

Nic Walker, who opened artisanal cheese shop Walker's Cheese in the street in September, said closing the road to traffic was safer and cleaner, and he thinks it would bring more people down.

"I much prefer it, just to allow delivery vehicles down. I would be very happy for it to be pedestrianised on Saturdays," he said.

Nic Walker of Walker's Cheese 

Nic Walker of Walker's Cheese - Credit: Mariam Ghaemi

He is not concerned about the impact of the roadworks on his business, which he said was "going very well".

'Short-term pain for long-term gain'

Mark Cordell, chief executive of the town's Business Improvement District (BID), said: "Obviously the disruption is regrettable, but in order to ensure that high quality fibre broadband speeds are accessible this work is essential. Short-term pain for long-term gain."

Mark Cordell, CEO at ourburystedmunds BID

Mark Cordell, CEO at ourburystedmunds BID - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The works in St John’s Street are planned to take place until April 24.

CityFibre said during this time there would be a gate attendant on site to allow access between the hours of 8am to 4.30pm for business delivery vehicles only.

Charles Kitchin, CityFibre’s city manager for Bury St Edmunds, said: "We are working closely with West Suffolk Council to manage disruption and complete this essential work as quickly as possible.

"We are very appreciative of the support we’ve received to date and ask the Bury St Edmunds community to bear with us while we deliver this important infrastructure.”

CityFibre is delivering an £8million digital transformation project in Bury St Edmunds.