Campaigners to keep South Street open say they aren’t being heard

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CAMPAIGNERS wanting to keep South Street open are saying they are not being listened to as they renew calls for people to say ‘no’ to the proposed trial closure.

The Keep South Street Open campaign has been set up by local business owners with the support of Bridport Business Chamber to highlight the affects the closure – which would cost between £20,000 and £50,000 – will have on their businesses, as well as safety concerns, effects on the Bridport community and employment.

A consultation launched by Bridport Town Council is currently underway for people to have their say on a trial three-month closure of South Street – from the town hall to Gundry Lane – next year.

But Debbie Bond, of Peach Electrical, who opposes the closure, says that she hasn’t received a response as to why they want to close the road.

She said: “There doesn’t seem to be any logical reason to do it, it just seems to be something that they think might be a good idea.

“We have contacted the town council and asked for them to tell us why they want to do this, but have received nothing.

“We thought, we have got to do something about this.

“Dad (Glyn Peach, owner of Peach Electricals) has been here for 30 years so we know our business, and we say it is a bad idea and we are not being listened to, which is why the campaign started.

“We feel we are being railroaded into this trial, which could be the death of us, and there is no reasoning behind it.”

Mark Dicker, of Animal House on South Street, agreed and said: “We are small, family run, independent businesses, we are not conglomerates.

“A company like Fat Face can stand six months of the business going a little bit haywire, because that is all part of it, but we can’t.

“As an aspiration it seems really great, but it just doesn’t hold up, it makes no sense whatsoever.”

Bob Gillis, town clerk, said Bridport Town Council met with businesses at a meeting prior to the consultation starting, as well as alerting business owners when it started, in order to keep them informed on the process.

He said: “The proposal to consult on this issue was a priority project in the council’s town plan and the town council took the decision to consult after considering a detailed report earlier this year.”

This report is available on the town council website at www.bridport-tc.gov.uk

The report states that the option to close South Street has been raised on numerous occasions by residents.

A feasibility study for the options for South Street was undertaken by Dorset County Council in 2016, which included one way systems, full closure, shared space and occasional closure.

However, members of the town council’s highways working group noted that the traffic modelling so far undertaken cannot accurately predict the impact on traffic.

Mr Gillis added: “The town council feels that to accurately assess the impact of the closure of South Street, a temporary trial closure for up to three months should be considered.

“However, before a decision is taken on whether to apply to the county council for a trial closure, it was agreed that a consultation should be undertaken to seek the views on the proposal and give everyone an opportunity to comment.

“The town council will be keen to discuss the results of the consultation with the Chamber of Commerce and other key stakeholders and the town council will then decide on the next steps and whether to make a recommendation to DCC, who as the highway authority will have to agree any proposals for traffic management changes.

“The chamber and local businesses will continue to be kept fully informed at all stages of the process.”

Members of the campaign also raised the issue that there are many misconceptions to the closure, including that the market would operate on the section of closed road, the amount of access vehicles will have in relation to deliveries, residents and emergency services and what will constitute a permanent closure and who will decide.

Bridport Business Chamber has published a leaflet recommending people to say no to the trial closure, stating a number of issues it could bring to the town.

The consultation is open until October 1st and is available at www.bridport-tc.gov.uk with hard copies at Bridport Library, Mountfield and Bridport Tourist Information Centre.

Bridport & Beaminster Reporter| Lottie is currently studying for an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism through a distance learning course and joined the paper in April 2014 on a freelance basis, becoming a staff reporter in January 2015. She is now the reporter for the View From Bridport and View From Beaminster papers.

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