The High Street barrier operated on Leighton Buzzard market days, which costs the taxpayer in excess of £10,000 annually, is to remain in place following a month-long trial where it was removed on Tuesdays.
The barrier was not used during April and the council says following this exercise on the quieter of the two market days, it is clear it is a necessary restriction to ensure the High Street is managed effectively.
The council says the barrier is needed for public and trader safety as the stalls limit visibility, and congestion is caused by buses and inconsiderately parked cars.
They say traders and council staff are also vulnerable, particular when the market is dismantled at the end of the day.
The barrier’s operation by experienced staff capable of controlling traffic movements cost £10,747 in 2017-18, although the council had budgeted £9,000.
A council spokesman said of the trial: “Despite prominent road closure signs, unauthorised vehicles continued to enter the High Street causing both a hazard and nuisance to shoppers and traders alike. The decision to reinstate the barrier was encouraged by the traders in particular who recognised the benefits it provided the market with.”
In the past the LBO has reported how the man operating the barrier had complained of death threats from travellers trying to move their vehicles on to the town’s High Street on market days. And regular police reports to the town council’s police liaison commmittee have also mentioned conflict with travellers involving the barrier.
But the council spokesman said it was a problem with drivers generally, adding: “Experience demonstrates that it is a generous cross section of our community who seek entry to the High Street on market days.
“Until a more satisfactory solution can be found or the council decides otherwise, the present arrangement will remain in place I am afraid. It is disappointing that for the sake of a minority of drivers who deliberately disregard rules, we find ourselves having to commit over £10,000 per annum for something that could otherwise be avoided.”
The council has added that in the current national trend of markets declining, Leighton Buzzard market is continuing to “remain buoyant and evolve”.