Weymouth Harbour businesses and residents protest against pedestrianisation

Weymouth Harbour businesses and residents protest against pedestrianisation

Published by George Sharpe at 3:35pm 1st July 2020. (Updated at 6:15pm 1st July 2020)

Residents and local businesses have been protesting against the temporary pedestrianisation of Weymouth Harbourside.

Many say they were only told about plans to close Custom House Quay, Cove Street and Hope Square to traffic for 12 weeks last night.

But Dorset Council say they've been running an online consultation which received 95 comments expressing a desire to restrict vehicle access in the area.

The closures will be in place between 10:30am and 9pm to allow cafe's, restaurants and pubs to open with socially distanced outdoor seating.

Many residents and business owners say they have not been consulted by the local authority about the road closures and asked how it will affect them.

Parking will be suspended within the closure - between East Street and Town Bridge - to provide the additional space needed to maintain social distancing within the sitting-out areas and busy pedestrian environment. 

Harbourside
Residents and locals say they should have been consulted on the changes.

Pat Lister lives near the harbour.

She said she hasn’t had any official documentation or notice from Dorset Council to say they are closing the road near her home:

“The authority needs to have a consultation, they can’t suddenly put something online, that’s how we found out about the roads closing, we never knew anything about what was going on until we saw this on Facebook.

“We formed a petition straight away because we knew that they were going to push it through very quickly and that’s what we’re angry about it, it’s ridiculous, we’re going to have more people coming over to the harbour.

“We’ve already got people sitting on our doorsteps, drinking beer, fish and chips and changing nappies. Somebody threw a stone at our window because they got drunk. I can’t get out of my house and that’s what I’m angry about.”

Residents with parking permits will be able to park around Alexandra Gardens and on Pilgrims Way.

custom house quay weymouth harbourside

Pat and her husband John Lister started a petition to stop the road closures, which over 200 people have signed so far.

John said they first heard a rumour about a proposal back in the middle of June:

“The council said the reason for closing the roads was to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to enable social distancing guidelines in the area.

“But our view is that it is going to exacerbate the infection, because the virus is going to spread far more quickly with the implementation of these proposals than if they weren’t implemented.

"So on that basis we started the petition."

Richard Bright-Paul runs a dive charter vessel out of the harbour.  He set up a meeting this morning, which many of the harbourside residents and business owners attended outside the Old Tea Rooms.  He told Wessex FM:

“I found out about the plans through social media, rumours were going around, but we only had the actual proposal in last night’s press release from Dorset Council.

“You’ve got a handful of pubs and restaurants that my benefit from extra seating outside, but 80 or more operations are going to be limited by these closures, they need to unload fish and passengers which you need road vehicle access for.

"If the roads close, the blood supply to the harbour will be cut off.”

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said:

"The COVID-19 response legislation under which we are operating does not require public consultation as we are having to respond very fast to changing guidance from Government. 

"Consultation with local businesses has led to the present scheme in Weymouth. On top of this, for the last month we have been running an online consultation on interventions required to ensure that businesses can operate safely as they re-open, and to enable people to continue to walk and cycle safely. 

"As of last week, 105 comments have been received on Weymouth harbourside, of which 95 indicated the desire to restrict vehicle access, either partly or fully, and 10 were against such proposals. This gives a snapshot of views from the wider population.

"The final decision to place vehicle restrictions on parts of the harbour was made by Dorset Councillors, together with the Chair and Vice-chair of Dorset Council’s Harbours Committee, with the agreement of the Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment. It was a unanimous decision.

"Due to the limited time available, the temporary measures will be brought in under 2x 21 day emergency orders to ensure there is additional space for social distancing for visitors to the harbour as local businesses welcome customers back safely from 4 July. This will be followed by a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order to cover the remainder of the 12-week period. This approach follows statutory guidance from the Department for Transport.

"Safety is at the heart of these temporary measures."

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