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Bid to make St John's Street in Bury St Edmunds pedestrian-only on Saturdays

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A bid to improve St John’s Street in Bury St Edmunds as a ‘go to’ destination for visitors to the town took a further step forward this week.

Shops and businesses in the street, and some in Brentgovel Street, have been invited to complete a survey giving their views about making the street pedestrian-only on Saturdays.

The initiative is being supported by business improvement district Our Bury St Edmunds.

Rosie Hunter from Vinyl Hunter and Mark Cordell. Picture by Mecha Morton
Rosie Hunter from Vinyl Hunter and Mark Cordell. Picture by Mecha Morton

Its chief executive Mark Cordell said: “From our perspective we are keen to support any idea and initiative from our members and with the street being nearly fully occupied it seemed a great opportunity to maximise that and make it a safe and attractive place to visit.”

Previous closures to traffic for the annual Christmas Fayre and the St John’s Street Festival have proved popular and provided a showcase for the eclectic mix of independent shops and cafés to promote their offer.

Rosie Hunter, whose son Will runs Vinyl Hunter record shop and café, is spearheading the move.

She said: “When we have been traffic-free for special occasions it has allowed St John’s Street to become a showcase for the amazing and unique businesses we have here. People can wander around with no vehicles or obstructions to worry about and it’s on occasions like this that we encounter a number of first time visitors to this part of town who we’d like to see become regular customers.”

Caroline Woollam, from Odyssey snowboard, ski and surf shop, said: “It’s a lovely street ruined at the weekend by illegal parking and we get people racing down here. It doesn’t feel safe. This would be very in keeping with this pretty historic street.”

Adrian Taylor, who owns Pocket Watch & Petticoats, said: “It would be amazing. The Christmas market was massive. It would be really positive. We could have our singers the Nightingale outside and people could dance in the street.”

René van den Oort, owner of Beautiful Beers, said: “I’d be very pleased to see traffic-free zones anywhere in Bury. It enhances the shopping experience and prevents pollution. People would spend more time and money and we would have a better footfall.”

However, a staff member at Bury Sewing and Knitting shop was worried about people being able to pick up and drop off sewing machines. What was needed was improved parking, she said.