Members vote to close Broad Street to cars until year’s end

BUSINESSES in and near Broad Street have given a mixed response to the States’ decision to close the road to cars until at least the end of the year.

Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30838743)
Picture: JON GUEGAN. (30838743)

During this week’s sitting, Members overwhelmingly backed proposals for a trial ‘pedestrian-priority area’ with access for buses and cyclists.

The road was closed to all traffic last May to allow greater physical distancing for pedestrians.

St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft, who lodged the original proposition to maintain the full pedestrianisation but which was later amended to allow buses, hopes Broad Street will become a hub for events.

However, some shops are not supportive of the move and believe they should have been consulted before the decision was made.

Richard Jordas, owner of Town Jewellers, said: ‘I’m very frustrated by all this. We were told they would reopen the road when cases came down. That’s not happening.

‘I’m not against change but we haven’t had any detail about it. We should have some involvement on what’s going to happen or how. I don’t want buskers outside my door.’

Mr Jordas also questioned the policy of allowing buses in a pedestrianised area.

‘You could have someone walking along with headphones and a bus behind them. I don’t understand the logistics of that,’ he said.

And he believes congestion will increase. ‘Do we think cars are not going to come into St Helier? They will gridlock other parts of the town,’ he said.

Janice Barnicop, of The Little Shop gift shop, added that everyone she had spoken to was ‘against it’.

She said: ‘Many of my friends say they don’t come into town because there’s nowhere to park. We’ve lost disabled parking spaces in Broad Street.’

She said she felt the Royal Square was large enough for events and pop-up shops. And she argued that if Broad Street was to be pedestrianised it should have been closed to all traffic.

‘You still have to check for buses. The cyclists speed along there now. You could be knocked down by a bike,’ she explained.

However, others took a different view. John Chex, of Chex Classics men’s clothing store, said: ‘The biggest problem I have in business at the moment isn’t traffic.

‘But pedestrianisation is coming everywhere gradually. They widen the pavements – it’s a drip-drip process. And I’m all for it.

‘It will mean less congestion and less traffic fumes. It’s a good thing.’

But he warned: ‘They are going to need more parking spaces.’

Jasmine Hardy, of Sigma printing and binding shop, agreed. She said: ‘We weren’t sure about it at first but now it’s quite nice.

‘You can walk out the door without worrying about the traffic. In the past the whole street used to be full of cars.’

She added: ‘With deliveries it can sometimes be a bit difficult and some customers don’t like it. We used to have people stopping outside to drop things in. But it’s quiet and we have got used to it.’

Town centre manager Connor Burgher stressed that the scheme would be reviewed after the end of the year – and that businesses would be asked for their views.

He said: ‘For me the benefits outweigh the negatives at the moment, but if after our consultation it appears to be the wrong idea, we will fully respect that.’

And he pointed out that pedestrianisation schemes were often resisted but later accepted and supported.

He said: ‘You don’t have to look very far back to when people were allowed to drive along King Street. No one would dream about doing that these days.’

There are plans for footfall cameras to monitor the numbers of pedestrians using Broad Street and Mr Burgher added: ‘We know for a fact that events and other things will drive footfall.’

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