Colchester: Entrepreneur Steve Miller urges town centre car ban

A COLCHESTER trader is urging civic chiefs to push through plans to ban motorists from the town centre – more than four decades after the idea was first proposed.

Steve Miller was speaking after claiming the majority of those consulted on the latest proposals were against them.

Colchester Borough Council (CBC) wants Essex highways bosses to approve a scheme to ban cars and delivery vehicles from the high street between 10am and 6pm.

When the current plans first surfaced they were criticised by campaigners for closing Colchester to those with mobility issues, because they involved relocating disabled parking bays.

It was also claimed they would be the “death knell” for independent shops.

But Mr Miller, who runs Miller Stationery in St Botolph’s Street, said: “I have been hoping this has been going to happen for 45 years.

“We’re lucky we’ve still got some of the small traders left but it’s the pedestrians and visitors – we need to keep them coming.”

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“I am serving only my self-interest – I want to stay in business.

“If they [Colchester Borough Council] have not got confidence to back their hunches they should not be in government.”

The Federation of Small Businesses originally said the plans would devastate small shops who cannot dictate when deliveries are made.

But Mr Miller added: “I don’t give two hoots about my deliveries, it’s a red herring. Just ask them to deliver before 10am.”

It is understood Colchester and Essex councils are currently reviewing the consultation responses but no date has been set for a decision.

Councillor Lyn Barton, portfolio holder for renaissance at Colchester Borough Council, said: “We’re confident about what we’re proposing but it’s the county council’s responsibility.

“As I understand it they have looked at the traffic regulation orders and then they have to decide the ones which are valid and the one which can be dismissed.

“We’re dependent on them as the highways authority.

“It’s been our intention to reduce congestion in the high street, that was one of our manifesto proposals.

“We’re working jointly [with Essex County Council] and it’s important that we get this right.

“That it satisfies the deliveries and the disabled people and I’m prepared to wait for the right decision.”

Iain Wicks, chairman of the north-east Essex branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, speaking earlier this year, said: “Over the last two years Colchester has done better than many areas in terms of retaining independent retailers in the main shopping areas but this could well be the death knell for such stores in our town and lead to many more empty shops in prime shopping areas.”