Bristol traders campaign to end pedestrianisation of Clifton street

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More than 100 businesses in Bristol have signed an open letter to residents warning of 'irrevocable change' if the part closure of Princess Victoria Street in Clifton is not reversed.

A section of the road is currently closed to traffic between 11am and 5pm as part of a trial aiming to reduce congestion and encourage more walking and cycling.

It is not the first time the plans have been met with backlash - in the summer, protesters blocked traffic in opposition to the plan.

Many business-owners say it has had a negative impact on trade - one said it has been "killing" the Clifton village.

JP Van Hoeve has run a gift shop in the village for more than 30 years and says footfall and trade has reduced since the introduction of the scheme over the summer.

He said: "It's nice but we're not Barcelona or Nice.

"At the moment it gets a bit colder and the rain stars lashing down and it looks like a deserted street.

"It's all good and well saying we have to move more but for some people it's not an option and it's killing the whole village - the vibe has gone", he added.

Lisa Elliott runs the nearby florist, Floral Design - and her bouquets have not been selling as well since the scheme was introduced.

Lisa believes that is because people are struggling to park. She said: "With my business it was very much just come here, park for half an hour, they'd race around get flowers, go to the butchers, card shop, gift shop, and then that was it.

"But people have lost the ability to do that now and they just quite frankly give up and go "oh I can't be bothered, I'll go somewhere where I can park."

But local councillor, Paula O'Rourke from Bristol City Council called on people to give the trial closure a chance.

She said: "There's a lot of things in flux at the moment. I think people should give it a go and let it have its run. It is a trial.

"I want people to know Clifton isn't closed. It is open. You can easily get here, the street is only closed from 11-5pm - we've taken away 12 car parking spaces, we've put in a lot of infrastructure for people to be able to sit and enjoy their leisure."

It's not just businesses with strong opinions on the scheme - some residents are also against it. One said: "I'm not keen on it - it damages the local economy and I rather like cars flying - it's getting awkward driving around here."

Another shopper disagreed and said the pedestrianisation hadn't been a problem for her - "If I come down to Princess Victoria Street I would walk anyway. I wouldn't bring my car."

The trial - which could last up to 18 months -  is being monitored closely by the council.