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Row over the merits of a traffic-free high street in Sheerness

16 January 2014
by Emma Grove
A row has broken out over the trial closure of Sheerness High Street to traffic

Sheerness Town Team is appealing for Islanders' views

A row has broken out over a trial to close part of a high street to traffic in a bid to boost trade.

The Sheerness Town Team is running a pilot scheme for the lower end of the road, from the clock tower to Victory Street, to be closed on Saturdays.

It will be shut until spring when a decision will be made on whether it becomes permanent.

Cllr Steve Worrall

Cllr Steve Worrall

Buses are being diverted down Broadway and round Millennium Way, rather than going through the town – something Sheerness West Cllr Steve Worrall disagrees with as he says many bus users are unhappy.

“Traders want as many people as possible coming into the town, not bypassing it,” he said.

“They are pushing people away and will lose the trade they’ve already got.

“I don’t think people are concerned about having a traffic-free high street.”

He said he doesn’t know how he would increase trade but would start by talking to traders and shoppers.

Cllr Worrall also questioned what the Town Team has achieved since it was launched and whether its members know much about trading.

But group member Ken Pugh hit back and said the group is trying to do what it can to boost the town and that buses are still going as far as the clock tower so it’s not a huge walk for people to reach the lower end.

Cllr Ken Pugh

Cllr Ken Pugh

He also said the Town Team’s achievements include painting the clock tower, securing the market barrows and the Christmas lights, plus other schemes in the pipeline.

“It’s led by the retailers themselves, there’s a representative of the MP and Swale council and people with business experience,” he said.

“We don’t want people walking along grumbling – we want to hear from them in the consultation period.

“We hope people will stay with us until summer at least to see how it pans out.”

A meeting to get feedback on the scheme has been rescheduled from last week to within the next fortnight.

  • Comments on the road closure, should be made in writing to Jill Read, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, ME10 3HT or by email to jillread@swale.gov.uk by the end of May.

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