‘Our independent shopping street doesn’t need fixing’ - petition against proposed Saturday traffic ban

A hot summer's afternoon in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, Picture: DAVID LAMMING

A hot summer's afternoon in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, Picture: DAVID LAMMING - Credit: citizenside.com

A hairdresser has launched a petition to stop what she describes as a “destructive” proposal to ban traffic one day a week in an independent shopping street.

Mark Cordell of Our Bury St Edmunds BID, left, and Rosie Hunter from Vinyl Hunter records in St John

Mark Cordell of Our Bury St Edmunds BID, left, and Rosie Hunter from Vinyl Hunter records in St John's Street where businesses are being consulted about traffic-free Saturdays. Picture: OUR BURY ST EDMUNDS BID - Credit: Our Bury St Edmunds BID

The idea to pedestrianise St John's Street in Bury St Edmunds on Saturdays has been spearheaded by Rosie Hunter from family-run Vinyl Hunter record shop and café, who believes it would improve the shopping experience and could lead to first-time customers becoming regulars.

READ MORE: Should busy town street become car-free on Saturdays?With consultation on the proposal under way, traders are expressing strong views for and against, including Karen Freeman, of Robert's Gents Hairdressers, who has set up a petition to stop the Saturday traffic ban going ahead.

Ms Freeman, who has worked at the barbers for 22 years, wrote on Facebook: "Our streets' lifeblood relies on customers coming to us on foot and by car. This proposed pedestrianisation of our unique little street will, we feel and know as long-term traders in the street, damage trade and put livelihoods in jeopardy."

Speaking with us, she raised issues with deliveries and accessibility for customers, adding blocking off the road could create traffic problems.

"St John's Street doesn't need fixing," she said. "It's a nice little independent shopping street and I think if that goes ahead it would destroy it."

READ MORE: So what do businesses think? Mixed views on proposal to shut shopping street to trafficPreviously, Ms Hunter said: "When we have been traffic-free for special occasions it has allowed St John's Street to become a showcase for the amazing and unique businesses we have here including shops, bars and restaurants.

"People can wander around with no vehicles or obstructions to worry about and it's on occasions like this that we encounter a number of first time visitors to this part of town who we'd like to see become regular customers."

Businesses are being asked to give their views on the proposals by the end of February, either by contacting Rosie at Vinyl Hunter or Mark Cordell, chief executive of the BID (Business Improvement District).

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Mr Cordell said: "At this stage the BID does not have a definitive view on this issue but we were approached by a few of our members who asked if we would explore the possibility and we were very happy to do this.

"We know that some of our members are supportive of the idea and others not so."

Mr Cordell added: "We await the outcome of the consultation and will then review what the next step is.

"At this stage a petition is not relevant as we just want to know the views of each business owner and for them to make this decision based upon their own views and not influenced by others.

"Even if the majority of businesses would like to see the street pedestrianised every Saturday there is a long way to go before this would happen.

"This is a genuine consultative exercise and we should know the outcome of this process by the end of next week."

The consultation is open to businesses - including non-BID members - in St John's Street plus a number in Brentgovel Street.