Colchester: Retailers call for 15mph limit in High Street and ban on motorcyclists using bus lanes

Colchester High Street

Colchester High Street - Credit: Andrew Partridge

Retailers in Colchester have put forward options for managing traffic in the town in the wake of a controversial high street scheme being suspended.

Last month, Essex County Council called a halt to the scheme, which banned traffic from the high street between 11am and 6pm. The move came only three weeks into the 18-month trial after the council was lobbied by traders and disabled groups who opposed the traffic ban.

But retailers say an alternative solution must be found to cut traffic in the town centre and attract shoppers.

In a bid to stimulate debate about the issue, Colchester Retail Business Association (CoRBA), which represents independent shops in the town, has published a set of draft measures it says might help with traffic problems.

These include a 15 mile-per-hour speed limit for traffic in the town centre and the banning of motorbikes from using bus lanes to provide safer routes for cyclists.

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Crucially, it has called for nothing to be implemented until Colchester Borough Council publishes its Low Emissions Strategy, which is scheduled for September 2014, as it says the findings will have an influence on any decision about traffic management in the town.

Chairman of CoRBA Michelle Reynolds said: “The document is intended as a catalyst to open a debate about what to do in the town. We have consulted with traffic engineers and put forward ideas we think may work but we are looking for more ideas to give us a full range of options. It may be that the final scheme takes in a little bit from everyone involved.”

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Another idea from Steve Miller, the own of Millers Stationary, is to introduce a 20mph speed limit in Colchester town centre.

Mr Miller, who represents businesses in the St.Botolphs Street area of town, said: “There’s a danger that now the high street scheme has been suspended that things will stagnate, but doing nothing is not an option. People are confused – they don’t know what is happening with the town centre and all the while shoppers are looking at other towns like Ipswich which brought in a 20mph limit 10 years ago.

“Everyone is familiar with the idea of 20mph zones and there’s no reason why they won’t work in Colchester.”

But Jade Hamnett, chairman of disability group Fair Access to Colchester, which campaigned against the high street traffic ban, has warned that too many ideas on how to solve Colchester’s traffic woes might lead to a “piecemeal solution”.

She said: “We don’t want to run the risk of introducing another scheme that gets suspended after a short while. We aren’t making any decisions at this moment in time and are looking at what ideas come forward.”

Ms Hamnett added that she thought it was important that any new traffic scheme should not be introduced until a planned park-and-ride scheme opens in about 18 months’ time.

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