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Traders' fears over Diss road closure

PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 August 2010 | UPDATED: 09:20 16 September 2010

Adam Gretton

Fresh fears have been raised that traders in Diss will be hit by a town centre road closure next month as a result of a footpath repaving scheme.

Plans to close St Nicholas Street were postponed earlier this year over concerns about the impact on shops, pubs and businesses during the World Cup.

FRESH fears have been raised that traders in Diss will be hit by a town centre road closure next month as a result of a footpath repaving scheme.

Plans to close St Nicholas Street were postponed earlier this year over concerns about the impact on shops, pubs and businesses during the World Cup.

But officials from Norfolk County Council yesterday said they could not delay the footpath works any longer, which will close the road to traffic for six weeks from September 6.

Business leaders said they still were concerned that they would lose trade as a result of the works. However, they added that Diss would still be open for business and urged shoppers not to be deterred by the road closure.

It comes after South Norfolk Council confirmed that it had declined a request by Diss Town Council to install long-stay parking spaces in the Park Road and Shelfanger Road East car parks and to make parking free at those two sites during the county council works in St Nicholas Street.

Jenna Cox, spokeswoman for the Diss Business Forum, who questioned the need to repave St Nicholas Street, said that a similar footpath scheme in Market Hill last year proved to be a “disaster” for traders.

“We did on behalf of members along with the town council try to reverse this, particularly in this economic climate that it will be a big problem for businesses, but they have declined to take those into consideration. Whilst we are disappointed by the decision taken, Diss will still be open for business,” she said.

Traffic will be diverted via Shelfanger Road, Sunnyside, and Mount Street during the works, which are due to run until October 15.

Becky Sutton, owner of the You Can Brew It shop in St Nicholas Street, said she was anticipating a slow six weeks of trade.

“The street is really quiet anyway and the road closure will stop people coming up. We are annoyed because it is quiet during the summer holidays and it will be closed when kids go back to school,” she said.

Phill Moulson, Norfolk County Council project engineer, said pedestrian access would be maintained in St Nicholas Street at all times.

“Although we were happy to reschedule the work from June to September at the request of traders, it will not be possible to change the one-way flow system, during the closure of St Nicholas Street, for safety reasons. By using two gangs, we hope to complete this work as quickly as possible but also understand that this will cause some disruption to traders and residents in Diss, and apologise for any inconvenience they may endure as a result,” he said.

South Norfolk Councillor Eloise Ellis added that the district council had declined Diss Town Council's parking request “in the interest of maintaining a fair and consistent charging system” and the authority had asked for a meeting with the town council to discuss charging and car parking issues in the town.

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