Close the High Street and it will die

PUBLISHED: 06:17 20 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:37 24 May 2010

ANGRY traders packed out the community centre in Worle to voice their objections to plans to close the High Street. No standing room was left at the meeting on Wednesday which saw nearly every trader and a number of residents tell North Somerset Council o

ANGRY traders packed out the community centre in Worle to voice their objections to plans to close the High Street.No standing room was left at the meeting on Wednesday which saw nearly every trader and a number of residents tell North Somerset Council officers 'the High Street will die' if it is closed to through traffic.The council floated the idea of closing the road, making it one-way or putting in extra safety measures in a bid to improve pedestrian safety after figures show there have been nearly 40 accidents in the last five years. Officers want to close the road in September for three days as part of a European-wide 'In Town Without My Car' event and use the time as consultation for a permanent closure.However traders said the move would put shoppers off, cause more accidents in narrow streets surrounding the High Street and put schoolchildren's safety at risk with extra traffic using New Bristol Road and Church Road.Dominic Male of EM2 in the High Street was greeted by cheers and applause after calling the idea 'a sledgehammer to crack a nut'. He said: "Worle is a little gem from a community and business point of view. The High Street is a life artery that flows through it and if it is closed people will avoid this shopping Mecca in favour of the big retail centres of Weston."The three day closure is a red herring and within six months you would find massive drops in shoppers and businesses closing."I am extremely concerned we are going to take a sledgehammer to the safety issue and smash it down on Worle High Street."Another trader said: "The first we heard about this was reading it in the Mercury. "Where was the consultation from the council? It's disgraceful."After an hour of strong objections, council officer Kate Cochrane, who presented the idea, said: "There's no point in doing the three days if nobody is going to support me. I'm not going to waste my time."Even Avon and Somerset Police's Sgt Dave Holtby said: "I don't like the idea. We've got a similar closure in Regent Street and because people don't read the signs cars still use it and the onus will be on us to enforce something that isn't practical. "It would be better to create an alternative scheme that looks beyond road safety to include crime and disorder prevention as well."Ward councillors for the area Cllrs Jenny Gosden, Astra Brand and Roz Willis, promised to pass on the people's views to the council.

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