Car free plans scrapped

A town in Ireland's County Clare has scrapped plans for a car-free high street just six weeks into a six month trial after traders reported a drop in business.

Ennis Town Council has set up a scheme to pedestrianise its town centre in an effort to make shopping a more pleasant experience for residents and visitors and to reduce the environmental impact of road traffic.

The scheme saw the town’s two busiest shopping streets closed to cars for six hours each Saturday.

But this week, the council voted six to three against plans to continue the scheme after the business community voiced concerns.

Gerard Dollard, Ennis town manager, said: “It is disappointing the council could not complete the trial which would have provided a solid base for delivering on one of the core objectives of the Ennis Town Development Plan 2008-2014, namely the pedestrianisation of O’Connell Street and Abbey Street.

“Review mechanisms had been put in place to assess the effects of the trial on trading and consumer attitudes. However, this review will now not be possible due to the discontinuation of the trial.”

Mr Dollard said the situation was a ‘setback’ rather than a battle lost. “The council is not abandoning our objective of introducing pedestrianisation on a permanent basis as we regard such a move as key to the enhancement of the overall shopping experience in Ennis, as well as the improved safety of pedestrians,” he added.

“The purpose of the trial period was to allow an opportunity for pedestrianisation to be monitored over a short period and allow issues to be addressed.

“The council executive remains committed to working with the various parties to find a way to deliver on this important objective for the development of the town.”

David Gibbs

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