TRADERS have warned that proposals to pedestrianise South Street "will ruin us".

Members of Bridport Business Chamber unanimously spoke out against a trial closure of South Street at its monthly meeting on Tuesday (11). Bridport Town Council will carry out a consultation in May before potentially closing South Street to traffic in a pilot scheme next year.

Business leaders from across the town hit out against the idea and voted unanimously against it.

Chrissy Clare from Washeteria on South Street, said: "We rely on people being able to drop off their washing outside.

"This will ruin us - it will just close the whole thing."

She added: "They are planning to build all these new houses in Bridport. If they can't drop these things off, go for a cup of coffee and pick those things up again, it is doing away with a service for the local community and one that I have always been very proud that we offer.

"This won't work for us, it will be disastrous."

Martin Biss from South Street business, Naturalife, said he loses trade when the road is closed for events.

He said: "Every time the street is shut we lose in excess of 10 per cent of our turnover and that doesn't change.

"We have big deliveries three times a week and we have lots of other deliveries. They are coming in and out of the shop all the time.

"It's the biggest load of rubbish I have seen for a long time."

Businessman Roy Gregory, labelled the shopping experience when South Street is closed as "appalling".

He added: "While there are a few businesses that are undecided, the majority I speak to think it should stay as it is. I think the concern is that it will become too central around South Street.

"I cannot support the idea. I think my experience is the same as the other shops there. If we have a closure it will ultimately change the town centre."

The chamber is opposed to a trial closure of South Street, as well as a one-way system being installed in the town centre. Bridport Business Chamber did state its support for a 20mph speed limit being imposed.

Town clerk Bob Gillis, said Dorset County Council would have to approve any highways changes and that the chamber would be kept updates with any progress.

He added: "As was shown at the recent well attended council public open forum to discuss this issue, there are strong views in favour of closure and pedestrianising the top of South Street and also strong views against.

"The town council feels that to accurately assess the impact of a closure, a temporary trial closure for up to three months should be considered. However, before a decision is taken on whether to apply to the county council for a trial closure, and to give everyone an opportunity to comment, it was agreed that a consultation exercise should be undertaken to seek views on the proposal."