Views wanted on plans to ban traffic from town centre permanently
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Consultation is under way over whether Felixstowe's town centre traffic ban should become permanent and continue as a safer and shopper-friendly area even after the pandemic.
Currently all vehicles are prohibited from using the shared space area of Hamilton Road between Boots and Bank Corner between 10am and 4pm each day.
The temporary measures were brought in last summer after the first lockdown when non-essential shops were allowed to reopen - and have received huge support from the public.
Previously the stretch of road was open to vehicles - with a 20mph speed limit and parking for disabled badge holders only in designated areas and delivery vehicles.
With socially-distanced queues outside shops spreading across the road at some points, it was decided to bring in the 10am-4pm ban on all traffic to enable people to stay safe.
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Now Suffolk County Council is asking people whether this should become permanent.
The council said during the trial a public survey has been undertaken to gather the responses to the new arrangements.
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It said: "We have received an overall favourable response to the trial with 85.3% of respondents stating the scheme was working well or very well and only 8.8% that the scheme was not working well or not working at all.
"In the light of the favourable response to the changes made to Hamilton Road, the proposal is that we now make the changes permanent."
Under the scheme, the three black-paved parking bays will be allowed to be used by disabled badge holders only from midnight to 10am and 4pm to midnight, and traffic will be banned from 10am to 4pm.
Further consultation is now taking place and people have a chance to make a formal representation in support of, to suggest changes or to object to the proposal.
All comments must be received by the survey’s close date of 9am on Friday, March 19. All views will be taken into account when deciding upon future actions.
Felixstowe Town Council has supported the proposals to make the town centre safer for shopping during the Covid-19 crisis. Councillors were told that traders and shoppers were overwhelmingly in support of the changes.
Until now the town has always faced problems in bringing in pedestrianisation - mainly because not all shops have rear delivery entrances, and traders previously relied heavily on passing trade.
A six-month trial in 1988 was a disaster, but a Saturdays only scheme was successful for many years. The shared space was then brought in to allow cars and people to mingle, with only parking for the disabled, but there have been problems with a lack of enforcement of illegal parking - though now this is in the hands of East Suffolk Council, the situation has improved.
However, with town centres across the country suffering shop closures - before the virus and even more during - the nature of the shopping area is now different and needs major decisions.