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Weymouth Esplanade may shut in summertime car-free plan for seafront
WEYMOUTH seafront could become traffic-free in the summer in a lasting Olympic legacy for the town.
Positive feedback following the two-week closure of the Esplanade during the Olympic Games has prompted council chiefs to consider doing it again to boost the feel good factor for future seasons.
Exact details have yet to be decided but both Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and Dorset County Council confirmed they have been discussing it.
But the closure is not being welcomed by everyone.
Road closures were in place during main Games time from the end of July to mid August including the seafront which shut to traffic between 10am and 10pm, leading to a relaxed environment for pedestrians.
Speaking after the Olympics, the head of the local operations team Simon Williams said: “We had a huge amount of feedback saying it was fantastic and can’t we have it again.
“Clearly that is something that can’t be done lightly for a long period but it could be considered as part of an overall transport strategy, where some restrictions could be applied for certain events.
“It’s a freeing up for pedestrians – that safety, that relaxed environment, was greatly appreciated by people.”
President of the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce Anna-Maria Geare said research after the Olympics revealed the majority of members were generally in favour of a seafront closure although everyone had different views on the details.
“Members agreed it would be beneficial to the visitor experience,” she said.
Mrs Geare urged traders, whether they were members of the chamber of not, to take part in a survey regarding their experience of the Olympics via the group’s website.
Beach trader Tony Deadman said a partial closure outside seafront bars might be a good idea but he would be concerned if the whole stretch was closed.
He said: “The restrictions during the Olympics made Weymouth like a ghost town at night, no-one was driving in. We were closing early on some evenings in August which is unheard of.”
Dave Price of the Weymouth Hoteliers, Guesthouses and Lease-holders Association said: “I’m not against it but it would still need to be accessible for people staying at accommodation.
“We’re awaiting feedback from our members at the far end of the seafront.”
Mike Nicol of Cavendish House guesthouse on the Esplanade said a closure would mean accommodation providers would miss passing trade.
He added: “If the council wants to kill all the B and Bs in this town they should go right ahead and close the seafront.”