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Sittingbourne traders fight plans for High Street closures to cater for proposed market move

26 February 2014
by Hayley Robinson

More than 30 independent traders have signed a petition urging Swale council not to close the High Street on Fridays.

They all have have businesses from Central Avenue down towards Bell Road. The market is currently held on this day in The Forum car park.

Sittingbourne traders opposed to plans to close the High Street on Fridays.

Sittingbourne traders opposed to plans to close the High Street on Fridays.

But the idea for it to be a two-day operation on Fridays and Saturdays as part of the regeneration development, was unveiled at a local engagement forum meeting held in September.

Three months later it was agreed by members of Swale council’s Joint Transportation Board.

For the scheme to go ahead, the council will have to apply for a traffic regulation order to close the High Street to traffic between 6am and 6pm on both days.

The new site will see stalls lining the street from outside Wilkinson and depending on popularity, could stretch as far as the entrance to Central Avenue.

A document against the move was presented to the local authority when six traders met with officers to discuss the proposal at Swale House, East Street, last Thursday.

Sittingbourne High Street

Sittingbourne High Street

Vic Brobyn, co-owner of The Pet Shop, is leading the campaign. He said: “We will lose [passing] trade on a Friday if they close the road. That’s our main gripe. We haven’t got a problem with the market itself.

“Why can’t they have the market just on a Saturday because the High Street is closed then anyway? They could then see how it goes.

“There’s 25 parking spaces down past Central Avenue. You can only stay there for 20 minutes and those parking wardens are on top of that, so potentially you can have three vehicles parked [in one space] within an hour which works out as 600 in eight hours.

“On a Friday there are always cars parked all along there – people are fighting for spaces.”

A council spokesman said: “We are currently undergoing an informal consultation, the results of which will inform the formal consultation period.

“A proposed date for moving the market will not be set until the completion of the formal consultation and everyone has had the opportunity to voice their views on the proposals.”

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