Your views on proposal to ban traffic from Market Square in Saffron Walden

Market Square is host to a number of events, including the first-ever Busker Festival earlier this year. Picture: CELIA BARTLETT

Market Square is host to a number of events, including the first-ever Busker Festival earlier this year. Picture: CELIA BARTLETT

Copyright © 2017 Celia Bartlett Photography. All rights reserved

Last week we revealed news of a proposal to pedestrianise Saffron Walden’s Market Square on some days during the summer.

Former mayor Heather Asker suggested to the town council the area could be closed to traffic on Fridays and Sundays in July and August, from 11am-5.30pm, as well as over the August Bank Holiday – on top of market days.

It was put forward for a trial to see if it worked.

Proposal to trial closing Market Square to traffic on some summer days

Councillor Asker’s view was that it might attract more people into the town, and create a ‘cafe culture’.

But some, such as trader Jacqui Portway, warned it would create town centre “chaos”.

The Reporter asked readers for their views on the story on our Facebook page, and the post attracted a lot of responses.

Here are some of the highlights from both sides of the debate. There were also those undecided, or who liked the idea but said they wanted to see more detail.

Rebecca del Tufo: “Great idea. Cafes, wine bars, watch the world go by. Entertainment might spring up. Just need creative ideas to ensure the quick stop shoppers with kids or mobility issues can be served.”

Gwenda Darcy: “We have a very large under-used common, why not erect a coffee shop there and toilets, maybe a splash park, then you are not inconveniencing anyone by closing roads.”

Suzanne Walker: “Traffic-free would be excellent for little old ladies such as myself.”

Andy James: “And yet another reason I would never live in Walden again, even if I could afford to. What utter nonsense. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, however, Walden now seems to be a sow’s ear, made from a silk purse.”

Megan Charnock: “This would be fantastic. What an opportunity! It could be the start of something amazing. Let’s go for it and see what happens (I’m confident we’ll never look back).”

Jo McGregor: “Sort the parking out first! Pay as you leave on the common, allowing visitors to spend more time in town and not having to dash around because their ticket’s about to run out.”

Jennifer Trimnell: “I think it would be good, some of the cars go up King Street like madman.”

Marilyn Ketteridge: “I can’t see our local coffee shops being in favour of this. Think of the business it would take away.”

Bernie Gilbert: “I think it is an excellent idea especially with Beales turning into lots of shops. It will give the town a heart. I love coming in on market days, especially in the summer and sitting along the edge of the library with a crepe or sausage sandwich. You chill out, relax and soak in the atmosphere.”

Mikey Reynolds: “You want people to shop and that’s the first place they will try to park. Closing this could result in low sales for local independent business who rely on the five-minute shopper?”

Judith Emery: “Where else in our beautiful town can you sit and watch the world go by?”

Marina Belyanin: “It’s already closed on two market days and I think it is more than enough.”

Anna Bromfield: “Love the idea. We seem to manage two days a week? Is it wishful thinking to imagine kids playing around the fountain, whilst you enjoy lunch outside a cafe? Maybe, but I think it’s worth a little more thinking.”

Sandra Eden: “Do we want to give the banks any further excuse to close their halls? Loss of footfall might just achieve this. Think on.”

Trudi Hughes: “Always thought it was a shame Walden’s premier urban space looks like a car park. Go for it.”

Frances Jones: “I don’t think it’s a good idea. Disabled access is important, as is being able to pull in for 10 minutes to pick up prescriptions/pop to the bank. It’s unnecessary.”

Neil Gaffan: “Close it permanently to traffic and allow restaurants to spill out.”

Jim Ketteridge: “We have pedestrianisation two days a week primarily to avoid the conflict between vehicles, market stalls and customers. For those who say we should embrace change, people like myself will tell you there has been much change, but this has been a process of the town evolving not changing for the sake of change.”

Barney French: “Good idea but the council needs to provide free parking across the town.”

Jaxx Powell: “Most people I know work so would not be able to relax in the market drinking no doubtless high priced drinks and listening to music.”

Michael Stock: “Make the whole square pedestrianised until evening (to allow deliveries) then make it an open market with themes on different days.”

John Maddams: “Change for change’s sake. Ill-conceived I think. Suggest all who trade in this area be surveyed first – if that comes up with a majority in favour, put it to a town-wide referendum.”

Abi Saffrey: “The only thing that will ruin Saffron Walden will be resistance to change.”

Helen Burke-Scott: “Jubilee Gardens could absolutely be better promoted as an outside cafe culture area.”

Hazel Banner: “I think it is a great idea. I am disabled and use the disabled area on King Street. To help with disabled parking make the car park behind Boots disabled-only.”

Natalie Stirling: “You risk making the town inaccessible to disabled people for four days of the week.”

Rachel Lawson: “This would improve the shopping experience. If shoppers don’t just have 30 minutes they are likely to spend more time going shop to shop.”

David Reid: “Trial it, maybe a week on a week off for a month, get shop owners in for a meeting plus some locals and debate it out! We can’t be afraid of change but we don’t want our town messed up!”

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