The Managing Director of Romerils has hit out at the decision to temporarily close Broad Street to traffic, saying it will hurt shops by reducing town footfall and making deliveries harder.
The comments from Steve Jewell of the Dumaresq Street-based home interiors store came ahead of the closure coming into force tomorrow (Saturday 23 May) - just days after the move was announced by the Infrastructure Minister.
The closure will be in place until further notice, and will apply to all motor traffic, although delivery vehicles will be able to access the area between 07:00 and 11:00 each day.
Explaining the rationale for the decision, Deputy Lewis told the States Assembly this week that he believed it would allow for better physical distancing between pedestrians, while allowing alfresco business to thrive in the area.
Pictured: Deputy Kevin Lewis, the Minister for Infrastructure.
But Mr Jewell has voiced concerns about the impact it will have on shops, adding that he felt the move had been on the cards for "a while".
“Businesses like Romerils, Marks and Spencer and De Gruchy have objected strongly to that due to the impact it would have on their operation and in customers getting to them.
“Broad Street is not a little runabout area, it’s a main road used for lots of purposes.”
While deliveries are allowed during a three-hour period in the morning, Mr Jewell explained this will not help Romerils, whose deliveries are an “all-day operation”.
Pictured: closing Broad Street will affect businesses in town.
In addition, the Managing Director says closing the road will make it more difficult for customers to get into town at a time when businesses are already suffering massive losses due to lockdown, which some may not be able to survive.
“They say they are closing for the benefit of people so they can physically distance better, but the high street is not very busy, the footfall has been dropping for years and years,” Mr Jewell said.
“They are saying they want to help future hospitality businesses, but retail has been decimated. They should be focusing on helping the businesses that are here now.”
In addition to potentially restricting customer numbers, Mr Jewell says the closure will cause traffic congestion and have repercussions for health and safety in the area, as drivers will have to go through Hue Street, which he likened to a building site, as Andium Homes is currently refurbishing Hue Court.
Pictured: The closure will send vehicles down Hue Street where Hue Court is currently being refurbished.
“With everyone having to drive through there, they will be congesting all of Union Street,” he explained.
“They haven’t considered the health and safety impact of that. They have not spoken to the Co-Op, De Gruchy or Marks and Spencer.
“They should have come and said, ‘We are considering this,’ and come and talk about the implications. This will have an economic impact, a traffic impact and a health and safety impact.
“They have done this without consultation or checking the risks and they are instead creating a lot of risks. You do not just close a road and wait for the implications.”
Pictured: Closing Broad Street will help people keep their distance from each other, the Infrastructure Minister said.
Mr Jewell also says he is not convinced by the arguments put forward by the Minister and is concerned his Department is planning to make the closure permanent.
“We do not need to close a road to keep people’s distances,” he said. “I think they are coming up with very weak arguments or reasons to close the road.
“If they are so concerned about everyone’s safety, they shouldn't be opening small shops where people won’t be two metres apart. My personal belief is that they are using corona virus to fast-track what they have wanted to do for years."
Speaking about the rapid introduction of the road closure measure, the Infrastructure Minister said in a statement to the States Assembly this week: "As time is short and the need pressing, the changes to traffic management will in effect be rapidly prototyped and adapted as the need arises or conditions change.
"We are in uncertain times, we cannot reply on traffic modelling to give us the answers. Traffic volumbes will be changing as government lockdown restrictions are reduced. People's reactions are difficult to predict. Having a progressive programme allows us to tweak schemes and adapt as we work."
The news was met with varied reactions from States Members, with Constable Sadie Rennard bemoaning the loss of the Broad Street bus stop, which serves two bus routes. From tomorrow, the routes will depart from Liberation Station instead.
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.