KEEP South Street open – that’s the message from businesses over plans for a controversial roads scheme trial.

Bridport Business Chamber has published its response to a consultation being run this month to gather views about the proposal.

And while they feel that the idea of a 20mph speed limit is positive, they have spoken out about the potential risks to the public if the trial closure goes ahead.

Bridport Town Council launched the consultation on August 7, and is asking for people’s views on a possible pedestrianisation of South Street, as well as more general town centre traffic issues.

It’s not the first time businesses and the town council have clashed over the issue. In March some firms spoke out saying that closing South Street to traffic would ‘ruin’ trade. In response, council officials pledged that if the route was closed to vehicles, this would not prevent businesses from having goods delivered.

Councillors have earmarked £50,000 for the trial closure – which, if it goes ahead, will take place from Easter 2018 – but businesses say the cash could be put to better use.

Chamber president Rob Mühl said: “We would like the Town Council to focus instead on improvements to car parking, park and ride, public transport and town centre signage – any of which we feel would be better use of this public money. 

“It’s crucial to think about where the extra traffic will go if access to the top of South Street is removed - any town centre road closure puts a huge amount of stress onto alternative routes; a member of the Chamber recently recorded over 3,000 vehicles using South Street over the course of just one day and these will all have to go somewhere else if South Street is closed.”

A spokesman for the Chamber added that businesses feel alternative routes such as the A35/Sea Road South, Gundry Lane, Skilling and Victoria Grove are not fit for purpose to take extra vehicles, especially lorries, and will soon become overwhelmed, causing even more traffic congestion in the town centre.

Town clerk Bob Gillis said the council is keen to ensure the Chamber and town centre businesses are given every opportunity to comment. 

He added: “The Chamber’s comments and all the responses received will be fully considered by the Town Council. The evaluation report will be published in October and then the Town Council will decide whether to make a recommendation to the Highway Authority, Dorset County Council, on all the matters in the consultation. 

“The questionnaire can be completed online or hard copies are available in the library, Mountfield and the TIC. There will also be an opportunity to complete it and find out more at the Town Council’s stand in the Bridport Marquee at the Melplash Show.”

People have until October 1 to submit their views. Visit for more information.