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Newton Abbot traders say council isn't listening

Wednesday, 28 February 2024 14:00

By Guy Henderson - Local Democracy Reporter @GuyAHenderson

How Newton Abbot's Queen Street could look

But Queen Street pedestrian scheme gets the green light

Traders who say their businesses will be destroyed by planned changes to parking and traffic flows in the centre of Newton Abbot say no-one is listening to them.

The leader of Teignbridge Council says he wants to go on talking to them even though the official consultation is over, but they claim they are still not being properly asked what they think.

Work on the scheme is due to start in the spring, and supporters say widening pavements and changing traffic flows in Queen Street will make the town centre cleaner and safer, creating a better environment for shoppers.

The plans dominated a meeting of Teignbridge's full council, with a long list of questions from members of the public and a heated debate later on whether to press on.

Cllr Mike Ryan (South Devon Alliance, Buckland and Milber) told the meeting: “I know what Newton Abbot is like. I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t want to see it ruined.”

A question from trader Ally Locker asked: “Why are you not listening to the local traders and residents?” Council leader Martin Wrigley (Lib Dem, Dawlish NE) said while the consultation had ended, he still wanted to discuss issues that could be ‘fixed’.

“The whole scheme is a travesty,” said town centre resident Gail Anderson, while Hazel Trethewey added: “It is beyond belief.”

Claire Quelvennec of Jacksons Fishmongers and chip shop asked how businesses would be compensated for the losses they would suffer.

She told councillors: “You have lost the confidence of this town. This street will end up being closed down.

“Why on earth are you not engaging with us to come up with a plan that will enhance our town rather than kill it?”

Carmen Hanif, who is development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Devon, said the organisation is extremely concerned, given that no similar schemes elsewhere in Devon had been successful. “Businesses know their customers better than anybody else,” she said. “This is going to have a terrible impact.”

Cllr Wrigley said pausing the scheme for more consultation  was not an option, and added: “The reality is that this scheme has come out of a long consultation with the town. It is broadly wanted by residents, although I can see it is difficult for the traders on the street.

“There is a desire for this. It is still wanted. Trade will increase, and shops will prosper. It will be beneficial.

“The scheme is not destroying Queen Street. It is enhancing it.”

Cllr Wrigley said town centre retail is changing and high streets have to adapt, but Cllr Liam Mullone (South Devon Alliance, College) said the plan was "an act of civic violence."

Later in the meeting, members decided by 18 votes to nine, with seven abstentions, to reaffirm the council’s support for the Queen Street pedestrian enhancement scheme.

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