Costly traffic calming measures proposed for Totnes town centre have been hailed “senseless” and “unsuitable” by critics.

Town councillor Sarah Collinson fears Devon County Council’s plans to narrow sections of Fore Street in a bid to slow the traffic is a waste of money and will fail to work.

And Totnes Chamber of Commerce insists it “cannot support” the plans.

County engineers dreamed up the measures in a bid to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists navigating narrow pavements and fast moving traffic.

But it is Totnes Town Council which will have to foot the bill - of up to £75,000.

The plans are for three 2.2 metre narrowings with supplementary ramps alongside, which will allow HGVs to pass through but will force smaller vehicles to slow down.

Proposed locations of the traffic calming narrowings.
Proposed locations of the traffic calming narrowings. (Contributed)

In an email to the town council, chamber chairwoman Sarah Trigg said local businesses were “overwhelmingly against” the proposals, and flagged up that Bob the Bus would be unable to navigate the ramps.

Bob the Bus
Bob the Bus (Contributed)

Traders did not believe traffic calming measures were needed in Fore Street, she said, and are angry these “expensive drastic actions” had been proposed before less disruptive and cheaper options were implemented.

In fact, in previous conversations about traffic management in the town centre the measures proposed were always disregarded as being “unviable and ineffective, Sarah said.

She hailed the process undemocratic as the Totnes Traffic and Transport Steering group, formed of chamber members and other local groups and residents, was not involved in the development of the proposals.

The steering group is now calling for the town council’s public consultation to be extended so further options can be explored.

In her email Sarah said: “There is no evidence at all to support the idea there are ‘considerable traffic and safety issues’.

“The pavements and road are at their widest here and there are already several raised crossing places.”

Businesses area also worried about any disruption during the roadworks, which could take up to 12 months, Sarah added.

“Having just come out of Covid measures many businesses do not feel confident they have the financial resilience to deal with yet more disruption.

“They are worried about the loss of parking spaces throughout the works, road closures and the impact this will have on customers and deliveries being able to get to them, and finally noise and dust/dirt.

“Several stated that this could have catastrophic consequences for them.”

She continued:“Why has this gone to consultation at all, when the unimpeded access of a time-tabled bus service is a prerequisite of the implementation of any scheme?”

At the recent full town council meeting, Cllr Collinson called for a meeting with county engineers.

Cllr Sarah Collinson
Cllr Sarah Collinson (Contributed)

“We need to be able to sit down and discuss what the background was to this proposal and why they made this specific proposal,” she insisted.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of people and it doesn’t look like it’s going to make a difference to the real issues we have, and may just waste a lot of money on it.

“I don’t really understand why we can’t be spared an hour of their time to have that discussion, given the risks to people and the accidents that we have had recently and all of the very obvious issues we are having in this town.”

Cllr Louise Webberley said:“There are a lot of issues to discuss and I don’t think this particular proposal is going to deal with the issues of traffic calming in the way that we want.”

Councillors unanimously agreed to demand in the “strongest possible terms” a meeting with county engineers, to which the chamber of commerce would also be invited to attend.