Bad signs hit Royal Wootton Bassetts trade
2:00pm Saturday 14th September 2013 in Latest News
ROAD signs warning of a closure of the High Street because of a street procession left Royal Wootton Bassett traders furious.
The High Street was expected to be closed between 11am and noon on Saturday to allow the procession to parade through the town to Ballards Ash as part of the rugby club’s opening celebrations.
But a sign bungle by company Traffic Management Services (Retford) Limited saw traffic and footfall reduced to a trickle on what should be one of the busiest days of the week for many of the town’s shops.
Traffic signs intended to notify drivers of a 30-minute closure at 11am were put out before 9am on every route in and out of Royal Wootton Bassett, turning it into a ghost town.
Hazel Newson, chairman of the town’s Business Association and owner of gift shop Dandelion, said: “The signs were up at about 8 in the morning but it was only supposed to be closed between 11am and 12pm. People were having to park and walk up. To get people to come shopping anyway is a challenge without having to contend with street closures.
“By 12pm the signs were still up so we rang the police but they said it wasn’t down to them, and so we then rang Wiltshire Council.”
At about noon, when the signs should have been removed after the 15-minute parade, business owners took the initiative and turned the signs around so drivers could not see them.
Lesley Allcorn, who jointly owns Seasons Tea Rooms with Caroline Little, said the cafe in the Apsley Arcade was one of the businesses affected by the extended road closure and lost about 40 per cent of its average Saturday takings.
She said: “I think a lot of businesses were affected by it. They were very, very quiet on Saturday because the road was closed. A lot of people didn’t bother coming into Royal Wootton Bassett when they saw the signs. It’s a shame the signs were up so early. I know that they have to get prepared but it was only supposed to be closed between 11am and 12pm.”
The road closed to allow the marching band to progress down the High Street as part of the opening celebrations for the rugby club’s £1.3m new clubhouse.
Ms Newson said: “Traders had no problems with the rugby club. They did this with the best intentions to bring people to the High Street. They spoke to us about it and they wanted to bring more people here.”
Traffic Management Services (Retford) Limited was unable to comment.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said it would investigate the situation.
n Celebration as rugby clubhouse opens: Pages 34-35