“DISASTER” is how one town councillor described the pedestrianisation of Shaftesbury’s High Street, as it was announced the temporary scheme would remain in force this month.

As previously reported, Dorset Council announced that the area between Angel Square and The Grosvenor Arms would continue the car-free system between 9am and 4pm every day.

This is except for Sundays which are no longer included in the scheme. The authority added that the X2 bus service would be launching this week, permitted to travel one-way only down the road and limited to 5mph.

Heard during the council’s planning and highways committee meeting Tuesday night, Councillor Peter Yeo said the pedestrianisation should be stopped “immediately”, adding: “I never thought this was a good idea. The convenience of shopping in the High Street has gone, people are choosing to go elsewhere.”

A similar point was raised by meeting attendee Jason Allum, of jewellers Allum and Sidaway, who said there was a “significant decline in trading and turnover since the pedestrianisation had been enforced”, some of “up to 50 per cent”.

Mr Allum said he had conducted his own survey with around 50 retailers in the High Street, and of those 40 said the scheme should be eased. One of his main concerns was customers travelling to Gillingham, adding that “shops are suffering really badly”.

Describing the scheme as a “disaster”, Cllr Yeo added: “People can take care of their own safety by wearing face masks. If you want any shops to be around in a few months’ time we need to stop it now.”

Business manager Brie Logan said that “the vast majority of of businesses were happy with trading performance”.

Cllr Phil Proctor said the reintroduction of buses to the High Street may make shoppers “feel less easy”, later adding: “We either do pedestrianisation or we don’t”.

He also said Shaftesbury Town Council had not been consulted regarding the county council’s decisions and announcement on Friday.

Last week Cllr Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said this decision was “based on the priority of keeping the Shaftesbury High Street safe for shoppers”.

He said: “A further review will be undertaken mid-September to understand impact of less pedestrians and to assess the options of potentially removing or reducing the hours of restricted vehicular access.”