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Call for better one-way signage in Bury St Edmunds to improve shoppers' concept of safety

Inspiring confidence is vital if shoppers are to be encouraged back to Bury St Edmunds, according to a business leader.

Mark Cordell, of business improvement district (BID) organisation Our Bury St Edmunds, said improving people’s concept of safety was key – a strategy aided by effective social distancing signage.

He feels some signs in the town are not being noticed by shoppers due to being weathered or too small.

One-way signage in Central Walk, Bury St Edmunds (39960661)
One-way signage in Central Walk, Bury St Edmunds (39960661)

Of particular concern are signs marking out one-way systems in operation in Market Thoroughfare and Central Walk.

Mr Cordell said the system worked quite well after it was first instigated, but when many of the floor signs disappeared three/four weeks ago they were replaced with signs ‘the size of a small saucer’.

“At the moment, I don’t think it is marked out very well,” said Mr Cordell.

“I have been out to see how the system is working and people are generally complying, but in both Central Walk and Market Thoroughfare there are people who are not. They appear to have been oblivious to the signs.

“We have got to accept that the people who come back to the town last are the people who need most reassurance.”

Cllr John Griffiths, West Suffolk Council leader, said: “We worked with the BID and local business representatives on a series of measures to help people stay safe and businesses to re-open. This included putting in one-way systems at pinch points where it is difficult to leave space to stay safe. But, as we have always said, this also requires people to play their part and look after one another, by following the Government guidelines, local measures and social distancing.

"The vast majority of people are sensible and I would like to thank them for sticking with the restrictions in place. None of us want to see local lock-downs due to a rise in infection rates.”

A council spokeswoman said the current signage was installed to ‘allow recovery to begin safely’ but it was working to develop a more permanent approach.

“We thank everyone using our town centres for taking responsibility for their safety and that of others, by being aware of their surroundings and for complying with signage,” she added.

Meanwhile, despite footfall in the town being down 35 per cent according to latest figures, Mr Cordell said many businesses had been encouraged by trade since re-opening.

“Most of the businesses are pleasantly surprised with how things are going. People are going into shops and purchasing – the conversion from visit to spend is higher than previously.

“We are very pleased with how it is going but we need to work hard to get some people back,” he added.