Colchester: Traders call for delay in car ban scheme

Colchester High Street

Colchester High Street

TRADERS have called for a proposed traffic scheme in Colchester to be postponed until a park-and-ride service is introduced.

Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Council have announced they intend to bring in traffic restrictions in the town centre from Sunday, March 17. The 18-month trial will ban cars from using the High Street between 11am and 6pm and place further restrictions on nearby roads.

But retailers say they fear the controversial scheme will cause congestion and discourage shoppers from visiting Colchester.

Chairman of the Colchester Retail and Business Association, Michelle Reynolds, said many traders want the scheme put back until a planned park-and- ride scheme is implemented, which, it is felt, will take some pressure off roads around the town centre. Planning permission for Cuckoo Farm park and ride, located to the north of the A12, was granted in 2011.

Ms Reynolds said: “By banning cars from the High Street, traffic will be displaced into surrounding roads and make life difficult for people trying to get into Colchester.

“They will then go elsewhere – like Ipswich and Chelmsford – to do their shopping.

“We have asked traders to write to Essex County Council telling them they don’t want the scheme. Ideally, we’d like to see the trial postponed until the park and ride comes online, which, we are told, should be in around 18 months.”

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Paul Bentham, manager at Lion Walk shopping centre, said he felt implementation of the traffic trial was being rushed through

“At the moment we haven’t got the infrastructure to alleviate the congestion that will result from the trial,” he added.

But the cabinet member for highways and transportation at Essex County Council, Derrick Louis, said the council will consider terminating the trial traffic scheme if it is seen not to be working.

He said: “During the first six months of the 18-month trial period, there will be a period of consultation whereby Essex County Council as the local highways authority will be inviting representations. If there are a significant number of representations from local residents and businesses speaking out against the scheme, then we will need to consider if the scheme is still viable.

“The experimental orders give us the flexibility to react to any issues that may occur, so proceeding before the park and ride is operational does not bring with it any major concerns that cannot be resolved very quickly.”