Traders fear Christmas gridlock

TRADERS in a Suffolk town blighted by a weekend of traffic chaos have expressed fears that significant custom may be lost in the run-up to Christmas as drivers visiting the area face gridlock.

TRADERS in a Suffolk town blighted by a weekend of traffic chaos have expressed fears that significant custom may be lost in the run-up to Christmas as drivers visiting the area face gridlock.

Frustrated motorists in Bury St Edmunds even complained to the police after major roadways were blocked by jams last Saturday, following lane closures prompted by the development of a multi-screen cinema.

Now business leaders, who say trade suffered as a result, have expressed fears as to what may happen when work starts on the three-year Cattle Market project.

They have urged St Edmundsbury Borough Council to ensure proper signage and parking provision is in place well before the development begins to prevent shoppers from turning their backs on the town for good.


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Chrissy Harrod, chairman of the Bury Chamber of Commerce said: “We need to ensure things are in place now to point people in the right direction during future development, such as the Cattle Market.

“We are a little worried, as there was plenty of notice about the cinema works, but the town was gridlocked.

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“We do not think things were as well thought out as they could have been.

“Traders who contacted us said that the footfall was substantially less than it normally is on a Saturday.

“Fingers crossed these problems can be ironed out by Christmas, as it is the most important trading time of the year.

“We do not want people to drive into the town, come up against problems and then go off somewhere else.”

Ms Harrod said some shoppers had been forced to park at the town's railway station to access stores during Saturday's problems, leaving customers facing a 15 minute walk to even reach the centre.

She added: “There need to be sufficient notices in the right places and definite plans in place to ensure this does not happen again.

“Perhaps what has happened with the cinema can be used as a learning curve.

“We need to make it as easy as possible for people to access the town and ensure they can park fairly easily.

“We now have the evidence to tell us that there was a problem, and we are asking that please, let's not let this happen again on a bigger scale.

“The Cattle Market development could take up to three years, and we want to make sure trade does not lose out over that time, which is our biggest worry at the moment.

The chamber has now been invited onto a council strategy group to examine ways to minimise the impact of building work on the Cattle Market site.

A council spokesman said: “A temporary problem for drivers getting out of the St Andrews Street South car park on Saturday has highlighted the importance of starting immediate work on ways to prevent such problems occurring during any construction on the Cattle Market site.

“The situation was not helped by the fact that we did not put up sufficient signs within the car park to help drivers find the alternative exit on St Andrews Street South.”

The spokesman said an Impact Management Strategy Group had now been set up to examine any problems.

He added: “Lessons learned from the construction of the cinema will help the group make sure the town centre traders, shoppers and residents do not suffer.”

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