No debate for Thornbury High Street petition, as markets are launched to tempt shoppers

October 29 2020
No debate for Thornbury High Street petition, as markets are launched to tempt shoppers

A PETITION calling for the closure of Thornbury High Street to be urgently reviewed will not be debated by South Gloucestershire Council.

Supporters of the petition, which urged councillors to review the closure of the street to through traffic, have been told it fell short of the number of signatures needed to force a debate at a full council meeting.

Clive Washbourne, the Thornbury resident who set it up, said it reached 1,955 signatures.

But after the petition was handed in Clive was told by Kristy Spindler, who is managing the High Street closure project for the council, that some names had been duplicated between the paper and online versions of the petition, some could not be counted because there was no printed name alongside the signature and in any case, the number was below the threshold for a debate.

Clive said: "I would have liked it to have been discussed by the council rather than by the employees.

"I was hoping to have the decision to close it reversed or for it to be amended so that it would be a one way system, to give access to people using it day to day.

"There is no doubt in my opinion that the petition is going to be completely ignored."

A council spokesperson said: “We respond to all petitions submitted to us in line with our official petition policy.

"This particular petition was submitted in September and there were a total of 1,832 signatures included.

"For a petition to be debated at a meeting of Full Council, 2,500 signatures are required. A full, written response was provided to the petitioner and it will be included as part of the overall consultation report.”

The council banned through traffic in Thornbury in July to enable people to shop safely during the coronavirus pandemic by staying two metres apart.

It originally put in place a temporary road closure, which was followed by an experimental traffic order that can run for up to 18 months before being made permanent if the move is judged to be a success.

The council has launched a series of Saturday markets, with the aim of bringing more people into the town.

The first took place on October 10 and the next was due to be staged on October 31, with further markets planned on November 14 and 28.

Sue Aitken, from Thornbury Garden Shop, said: “We had a really good day and there were lots of new people about.”

The landlady of the Swan pub, Sandra Davies, said: “The feedback we had was that it was very well laid out; we were told by many people that it was a good idea to use the space.

"We were busier than normal and the High Street had a more positive buzz.”

For Liz Pell at Finishing Touches, the cake shop in the St Mary Centre, the market didn’t have much impact.

She said: “For me it was about the same level of trading; there were more people around, but as I’m a specialist shop, it was about the same as I would expect on a Saturday.

"About 70% of my customers come from outside Thornbury so I’m probably not a typical shop.”

A council spokesperson said the first street market was organised by a company called Green Tops, which also organises markets in Chepstow.

The spokesperson said: “Street markets are a great way to encourage people to the High Street and we are keen to support local businesses and communities through these unprecedented times in a safe environment.

Street markets are planned on a trial basis this October and November at Thornbury High Street, with markets on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

"Anyone can request a stall and seven local traders have indicated they would like to be involved in future markets.”

Anyone who wants to take part in the consultation regarding the High Street changes but is not online can now find paper copies in many Thornbury shops or call 01454 866000 to request a form by post, which can be returned via Freepost.