Traffic lights hurting trade in Malmesbury

Scaffolding and traffic lights that have contributed to long delays and gridlock through Malmesbury High Street are expected to be taken down this weekend following pressure on Wiltshire Council from the community.

Local retailers have expressed their anger over the temporary traffic lights, arguing that they are slowing business, as much as cars, in what is supposed to be the busiest shopping period of the year.

The lights at the top end of the High Street were set up to allow maintenance work to be carried out on the Abbey News building.

Retailers have, however, argued the work should have been done during January and February.

Kerrith Soden, the store manager for HJ Knee department store in the High Street, said: “Our footfall is massively down and the road is gridlocked 90 per cent of the day, and the parking spaces are not turning over as much as they should in December.

"Looking at sales, day-on-day compared to last December they are a lot less, massively less.”

Mr Soden said that one Saturday’s sales this year, compared with last year, were down by more than 50 per cent. Last month’s sales were up on the year before.

“These are the most important few weeks of the year and this is the time of year where we start making profit,” said Mr Soden. “I am sure the work is necessary but it’s not necessary to do it in December.”

Motorists have complained that it has taken them 45 minutes to drive half-a-mile up the High Street.

Jan Nurden, who owns The Cherry Tree clothes shop said: “It has been an absolute nightmare. People are just avoiding the High Street; it has hit my business really hard. On two occasions lorries have crashed into the lights and I have had barriers fall against my shop.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said: “We apologise for any disruption caused while this urgent repair work, which required scaffolding, is carried out. Because of the narrowness of the road it was necessary to install two-way traffic lights to control traffic flow.

“We also needed to temporarily close the crossing as it would not have been obvious to pedestrians who had right of way. We have told the business to remove the scaffolding by Saturday, which will result in the crossing re-opening and temporary traffic lights removed.”

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