Plea to open gates

Traders are appealing for Market Street to be opened to traffic again
Traders are appealing for Market Street to be opened to traffic again

Traders in Chorley have issued a plea to open the town’s main shopping street to cars in a bid to revitalise the town centre

Town centre retailers have long been campaigning to reopen Market Street to traffic.

And, they say after a devastating fire closed Cleveland Street and High Street, resulting in a need to open up Market Street for longer, means they have noticed a lift in trade.

One trader has reported a 15 per cent increase in turnover. Bernadette Ainscough, who runs Northcotes hair salon, said: “It has been a real lift. When the gates have been opened, the flow through this little precinct area has been great. Other traders have noticed it too.”

Bernadette said Chorley Council should look to areas such as Nelson and Accrington, where main shopping thoroughfares have been pedestrianised, and act quickly.

She added: “In places like Accrington and Nelson, closure for 10 or more years did a lot of damage. Let’s not leave it. They did, and it took longer to fix the damage. Market Street has started to buzz again, and this has brought the life back.”

Mike Rearden, from handbag shop Bragg, said: “Our turnover has gone up 15 per cent in the last two weeks, as a result of Market Street being open.

“We are businesspeople and we can’t wait for these decisions to be made – they have to be taken now.”

Traders held a mock funeral for the town in protest about the road closure when it was introduced more than 12 years ago.

The idea to reopen the street was again mooted in January by Chorley Traders’ Alliance, who included it in their plan of how to get Chorley through the recession.

Chorley Council said in 2010 that it would not make a decision on the pedestrianised area until it was clear how the Asda development at the top of Market Street would affect the town.

Bernadette said: “I wish they could just open their eyes and see the damage it has done. I don’t know why they won’t reopen it.

“They would just need railings down the street again, and the gates moving to Fazakerley Street and Chapel Street.

“I have been to meetings about this for two-and-a-half years, and it has got us nowhere.”

Lesley-Ann Fenton, corporate director of partnerships, planning and policy, said: “We are pleased some traders are reporting business picking up in the town centre.

“However, it is uncertain whether this is down to the gates being open for longer at the top of Market Street, or the fact that it was the Easter holidays, or another reason.

“The council is always keen to explore ideas for boosting trade, and it’s great to get feedback from traders.”

n What do you think? E-mail charlotte.wareing@lep.cop.uk