The start of both the Footprint and Archway projects this year means that the Christmas Market footprint will be extended to Milsom Street which would be closed for the duration of the market and some days either side. This will:
- bring considerably more nuisance and inconvenience to town centre residents particularly those living on Milsom Street
- take out of operation a large number of city centre parking spaces several of which are residents only
- disrupt deliveries and collections from Broad Street and Milsom Street businesses including the House of Fraser who are already planning to withdraw from difficult sites.
- create more traffic chaos in George Street and the rat runs north of George Street for the entire duration of the market
A number of politicians, pressure groups and officials have talked about the proposals for moving the footprint of the Christmas market as an opportunity to test the idea of pedestrianising Milsom Street long term. We have a number of concerns about this:
1. We doubt that BANES have well a founded traffic management scheme which can avoid considerable disruption and chaos if Milsom Street is closed for the Christmas Market. The traffic management in the area is poor even under normal circumstances.
2. Any pedestrianisation scheme needs to be part of a carefully thought through traffic plan for the whole of the city centre to avoid unintended consequences elsewhere in the city. We have yet to see such a scheme.
3. Pedestrianisation will lead to further loss of parking spaces for residents not just in Milsom Street but also in adjacent street which will become inaccessible
4. Many people live in Milsom Street and nobody seems to accord them and their needs any priority in pedestrianisation experiments or longer term schemes.
5. And most importantly this whole debate seems to be starting from the wrong end. We should be talking about how to improve the city centre for all those who live, work and visit. Within that we should be looking at how to make Milsom street a better place for all those who live, visit, work and do business there. Pedestrianisation may well have a role to play in either or both of these plans but it cannot and should not be seen as an end in itself.