Beccles Town Council asks for ideas for events in Beccles Town Centre

Following the temporary closure of New Market in Beccles, Beccles Town Council is inviting residents, community groups and businesses to submit ideas as to how to use the town centre space.

The council initially asked Suffolk County Council for the emergency closure of New Market, from Co-Op to Barclays Bank to allow for social distancing, following on from the Government, county and district councils advising that towns should be implementing measures to allow for safe reopening after lock down.  After the emergency closure expired, the council agreed to the implementation of an Experimental Traffic Order.  The council conducted an initial survey to ascertain the views of the public in respect of the closure of New Market.  Whilst there was a small majority in favour of the closure, it was acknowledged that there were also strong objections to the closure, particularly from some businesses.  The town council has therefore agreed a compromise and to try a second experiment, which is the reopening of the road from Monday to Thursday, freeing up a further 23 parking spaces. This means that the market area will be closed to traffic on Friday (Market Day), Saturday and Sunday.  Again, this is an experimental measure which will be trialled for a few months.

‘We are asking the public for suggestions for what this space could be used for over the weekends whilst it is closed to traffic,’ said the mayor, Ashley Lever. ‘COVID-19 has changed the way that many of us behave and this includes our shopping and leisure time habits. This gives us an opportunity to try out new ideas to attract visitors and residents to the town centre. If we can get people in and encourage them to linger, then this would help boost local retailers and hospitality businesses as well. If events such as themed markets, art exhibitions, community open days etc. are successful, then they could become a regular feature.’

Councillors recently met with officers from Suffolk County Council (SCC) regarding the new experiment for New Market, and SCC have put forward some suggestions as to how this new experiment can be achieved, including leaving the existing planters in place and installing gates between two of the planters at both ends of New Market.  This would allow for easy opening and closing of the road and would be a more attractive solution than barriers and road signs.  Lower, narrower planters could then potentially be used to widen the pavement between Greggs and Barclays but still allow for the parking spaces opposite to be used between Monday and Thursday.

The mayor said ‘We had a very positive meeting with Suffolk County Council Officers, and they have now gone away to draw up draft plans and start the legal work that will be required to make the change to the Experimental Order.’

If you have ideas about how the town centre space can be used during this period please contact or call 01502 712109.  Any events taking place will need to comply with relevant Government guidelines in respect of the Coronavirus.