'I don't think we'll be here next year' - Anger as high street closed to traffic

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Residents and business owners on a high street in South Gloucestershire say they are "worrying for their future" over plans to keep the area pedestrianised were upheld by the council.

A number of shops have been on Thornbury High Street for generations, but since it was closed to through traffic at the start of the pandemic many say customers numbers are down.

Residents have now criticised South Gloucestershire Council's decision to close the high street to through traffic and started a petition which gathered more than 1,500 signatures.

One trader whose shop has stood on the old high street for 100 years says it has been the worst year in its history.

"I don't think we will be here for many years if this continues. I don't even think we will be here next year," John Seymour of Horders said.

"We are about 40% down on sales on a good day."

"On a rainy day it is awful and the street are dead. People would usually drive up and nip in for something but now that is all gone."

John Seymour of Horders on the street says that he fears for his job if pedestrianisation continues.

One resident, who has lived in the town for more than 60 years, said that it was really sad to see the centre of the town struggling after what has already been a tough year.

"Purely from a nostalgic point it feels like the heart and soul of the town has gone," Lin Guppy said.

"I have a lot of really nice memories of the high street and I think it is really important that we protect it for the future.

"It really shows Thornbury off and now people are missing it."

Lin actually started a petition that was signed by more than 1,000 people and she said that people are hoping it can help revers what it is "killing the town".

Lin Guppy said that she has a lot of great memories of the high street and not people are "missing it".

"It feels like the heart has been ripped out of the area," she continued.

"We are a market town and it was always thriving and now it is just going to become a dead town like a lot of other places have become."

Another business owner whose shop has been central in the town since the early 1900's said that they saw trade drop by a third from the very first day of the closure.

"When the road was shut our trade dropped by a third overnight," John Riddiford of Riddiford's said.

"It has been quite up and down since then really.

"When the weather is bad you are lucky to see thirty customers so it just isn't viable in the long-term."

John Riddiford said that trade dropped by 33% from the very first day of the closure.

The plans to keep the high street shut, other than for deliveries and pick ups/drop offs, were approved on Monday at a council cabinet meeting.

Fifty-two residents had made submissions against the proposals ahead of the meeting and an amendment was made which means that more disabled parking spaces will be created along the high street.

What South Gloucestershire Council hope the high street could look like in the future. Credit: South Gloucestershire Council

Councillor Rachael Hunt of South Gloucestershire Council says that they will continue to work with traders to make sure that the area "thrives" in the future.

"There will be varying levels of support but I think that going forward there is a vision and we will be doing further consultation and we will continue listening to residents and businesses," she said.

"We will ensure that the high street not only survives but thrives."

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