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'Rat run' town centre street could be pedestrianised

PUBLISHED: 15:26 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:42 31 January 2019

Mere Street in Diss could be pedestrianised. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

Mere Street in Diss could be pedestrianised. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

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A “rat run” town centre street could be pedestrianised following safety concerns about law-breaking drivers.

Mere Street is already half pedestrianised, with only delivery vans allowed. PHOTO: Sophie SmithMere Street is already half pedestrianised, with only delivery vans allowed. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

Mere Street, in Diss, is currently split into a pedestrianised half and another half which is open to traffic and one-way between Chapel Street and Victoria Road.

Diss Town Council considered a proposal to wholly pedestrianise the much-used street at an infrastructure meeting on Wednesday.

A report by town council clerk Sarah Richards said the move would bring “obvious” safety benefits and create the knock-on effect of improving footfall for businesses.

It said: “Mere Street is used as a rat run with reports of speeding frequent and traffic sign contravention. This becomes a safety hazard for pedestrians.”

The report added that South Norfolk Police are keen to support the idea. This is because traffic sign contravention is a “found committing” offence, meaning an officer in uniform must stop the offending driver and deal with the matter at the time, not retrospectively.

It said: “Diss is the busiest of the local Inspector’s three areas and his team are no longer able to carry out targeted enforcement at this location.”

A timed pedestrian-only road has been suggested between 10am and 6pm, enforced by a barrier. This would mean shop deliveries must be made early in the morning.

Some business owners on the street have said they do not agree with the proposals.

PJ Music owner Peter Cunningham said: “They should be looking to improve what they’ve got already, improve the policing, rather than change the structure of the town.”

Brigitte Mager, owner of Diss Publishing Bookshop, also on Mere Street, said: “Pedestrianising Mere Street is not possible because of deliveries to the shops.

“However the weight limit of vehicle coming into the historic part of Diss should definitely be explored because unfortunately infrastructure has not moved with the changes in the size of lorries.”

The discussion comes as pub giant Wetherspoons prepares to build a new branch on what is currently a car park off Mere Street.

A council spokesman said: “There is no agreement or plan in place for this project to materialise at this time.”

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