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Traders threaten city council with legal challenge over pedestrianisation plan

Independent traders in a Bristol street have threatened legal action against the city council over a pedestrianisation plan.

This is among a number of disputes that have broken out over attempts by councils to encourage walking and cycling by restricting road traffic, notably including a court victory last week by the taxi trade against the mayor of London.

They said the council wanted to pedestrianise part of St Mark’s Road - which is noted for independent traders.

A website petition that has attracted 1,790 signatories said: “If they do, Bristol Sweet Mart & Pak Butchers will not be able to work and will move.

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“That would be the end of St Mark’s Road. The shops would become rented flats, and pedestrianised space would be useless.”

A Facebook statement by trader Abdul Malik said: “At this time of profound crisis and vulnerability local councils have a duty to protect their local economies, they should be supporting local traders and provide help and support to keep businesses alive and to sustain our cities prosperity - instead we have council officers and politicians rolling out traffic orders and consultation surveys to further hinder any prospects of recovery.

“Traders are having to fight proposals in our usually thriving high streets - to battle plans to pedestrianise or dramatically alter the roads and pavements outside their shops.”

St Mark’s Road was among those identified last August by Bristol for possible closure.

It said access to the roads would be retained but through traffic prevented by closing one end of each.

The council said then: “This would give local businesses and residents more space to use the roads, and provide safer walking and cycling routes.”

Cllr Kye Dudd, Bristol's Cabinet member for Transport, said: “St Marks Road was voted the UK’s best street in 2019 and is a popular, vibrant community hub. It is busy with cyclists and pedestrians and we’ve been in discussion with residents and businesses about making these movements easier.

“Our engagement with the community does not end with responses to the survey. Once we have studied all the responses from the current phase – print, online and meetings, we will come back to local traders and groups to start a co-design process on a possible improvement scheme.

“We are not committed to any one idea and we are keen for any change to benefit the community as a whole. Bristol can emerge from this crisis in a more sustainable way if we protect public health and unlock barriers to inclusive economic growth with cleaner air and safe and reliable sustainable transport options for all.”

Mark Smulian

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