TRADERS in Malvern are seething after their bid to throw a street fair in Belle Vue Terrace was kicked into touch.
Buoyed by the success of their Diamond Jubilee street party earlier this year, the Great Malvern Association of Traders (GMAT) wanted to close the road for another big event on Saturday, October 20, to tie in with the Autumn in Malvern Festival.
But, despite the Jubilee celebrations passing without problem their application was opposed by police and highways officers.
They say there are safety concerns and that the diversion proposed would not be suitable – despite it being the same as agreed for the Jubilee event.
Trader Adrian Ward said: “Retail is tough at the moment. Things have changed with the rise of the internet and out-of-town developments. Businesses know that we have to change and we’re trying to respond, but we need footfall and these events are vital.”
He had hoped the Jubilee celebration had shown that Belle Vue Terrace could be closed without issue and the stance to road closures would soften, allowing three or four big events a year.
“There were 6,000 people there in June and it was hugely successful, with no problems with the traffic,” said Mr Ward. “They manage it in other places and Worcester’s High Street has been fully pedestrianised.”
The traders association has now launched a petition calling on police and highways chiefs to reconsider their decision.
But Sergeant Ian Blanchard, of Malvern’s local policing team, said the proposed diversion – down Church Street and past the post office before rejoining the main road – was unsuitable for the large volumes of commercial traffic which use the road.
“We had reservations about the recent closure on Belle View Terrace for the Jubilee celebrations and it was the first time in many years that the road was closed.
“However, we felt that as it was a one-off event and taking place on a bank holiday when traffic was much lighter than normal, it should go ahead.
“Another difference is that the Jubilee application was for a street party, which could have been easily cleared in an emergency, rather than a commercial street fair.”
He said he would happily work with traders to find an alternative solution.
Jon Fraser, Worcestershire County Council ’s community manager for highways, said there were several reasons for opposing the closure such as the lack of a safe alternative route of the same road classification, the proposed length of closure and the risk of traffic congestion.
John Williams, Malvern Hills District Council ’s head of policy and governance, said the application was withdrawn following very strong objections and a site visit.
GMAT’s petition can be signed in town centre shops or online at facebook.com/ greatmalvern.
l Organisers of next year’s Festival of Malvern have failed to win the financial support of the town council. The council’s operations committee decided not to support a request for £5,050 and further administrative support for the festival. They will instead support the council’s own Mayor’s Bonanza and St George’s Day events.