Somerset

Pedestrianising Taunton plan splits opinion

Hammet Street, Taunton Image copyright Google
Image caption Hammet Street is one of the roads which could be closed to traffic permanently

Three busy town centre streets are to be pedestrianised in a bid to improve safety for shoppers and cyclists.

East Street, Hammet Street and St James' Street in Taunton will be closed to cars during the day in the 18-month trial due to start in the autumn. Buses will still use East Street.

Roger Habgood from Taunton Deane Borough Council said: "We're trying to improve the town for all of us."

But critics said it was "stupid" and would increase congestion.

'Stupid idea'

The plans, which were posted on BBC Somerset's Facebook page, attracted nearly 300 comments with some welcoming the move but the majority fearing it would cause more congestion.

Sheila Jordan wrote: "This is an absolutely stupid idea, how do the council think this will help the every day pressure of the roads and constant queues at rush hour, people are already fed up to the back teeth that nothing is being done to help this."

Another tweet from Laura Webber said: "They're trying to pedestrianise the whole of Taunton town centre except for buses. As if traffic wasn't bad enough already."

'Loss of footfall'

Mr Habgood said: "We're pretty sure it will be popular because it was when East Street was closed for other reasons and we want to make it a friendlier place to be.

"It does fit with our larger objectives to improve the town and make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians."

Colin Barrell, president of Taunton Chamber of Commerce said he was concerned disabled people would be unable to park close to shops.

He also said retailers would be concerned about a loss of footfall.

The trial will only begin once the Northern Inner Distribution Route (NIDR) project is completed, the council said.

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