‘We will be as dead as Lowestoft’: Hundreds to protest pedestrianisation of town
PUBLISHED: 14:59 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:33 30 July 2020
Business owners and residents will protest against their town council after claiming a decision to pedestrianise the town is ‘killing the high street’.
With some Beccles businesses reporting a 70pc decline in footfall following the decision to ban cars from certain town centre streets, one business owner has warned the town is “following in the footsteps of Lowestoft, and their high street is non-existent now.”
Lee Parker, the owner of Vapetopia on Hungate, claimed the pedestrianisation of Beccles is “killing” the town centre.
He has organised a protest against Beccles Town Council in the town centre on Thursday, August 6, and expects attendees to be “in the hundreds”.
It comes after 300 people signed a petition he started on Tuesday, July 28 in opposition to the council’s decision.
He said: “The council has ghosted in this traffic order under the guise of distancing, because they wish to make the town more pedestrianised. It’s just party politics and nothing to do with social distancing.”
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The council banned cars from New Market and a portion of Blyburgate and Hungate in June, hoping to “give businesses the confidence to open and people the confidence to come into town again”.
But the road closures lead to the removal of some 30 parking spaces, which some business owners cite as a reason for lower footfall.
Mr Parker said: “I’m down by 30pc, the business next to me has now gone to half days, and some businesses are talking about moving.
“The council says it’s only 20-30 parking spaces lost, but when it’s one hour parking at a time, that’s 300 potential customers lost every day.”
While Mr Parker said the measures ought to remain until we understand whether there will be a second wave of coronavirus, he said: “I’m concerned these measures will be made permanent.”
Deputy mayor Christine Wheeler said she urged anyone with concerns to respond to the council’s own survey, available in the town hall or online here, but added the council will consider Mr Parker’s petition.
She said: “We have regularly met with businesses and are listening to what they are saying, and a modification to the order is on this week’s council agenda.
“But this is about safety and there is no party politics involved. We want people to feel safe and able to come into the town.”
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