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Burns Walk bollards

Burns Walk on Tuesday - Photo: Shetland News

BOLLARDS are to be erected in a prominent Lerwick walkway to prevent vehicles abusing a pedestrian precinct.

Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee agreed on the casting vote of chairman Allan Wishart to block off Burns Walk outside Clydesdale Bank in the town centre.

The move is designed to stop cars from using the thoroughfare to access Commercial Street, which has been closed to general traffic during working hours on weekdays for the past 12 years.

A council survey last October found that on a single Thursday 164 vehicles “illegally” drove past the Intersport shop on Commercial Street, 92 per cent of which gained access via Burns Walk.

Jim Manson, of The Fort Café, wrote a letter of objection saying the move would “grossly” affect his lunch and teatime trade and cause congestion outside his premises, putting people off driving there.

He wrote: “The general public, who mostly have vehicles, wish to park as close to shops as possible.

“How can the street hope to compete with the likes of Tesco or the Co-op?

“It is a known fact that small towns which have completely pedestrianized their ‘Street’ now have many shops lying empty and more closing down.”

Manson said that other traders in the area agreed with him, but he failed to reply to a letter from the council saying they believed the impact on his trade would be “minimal”.

“Far from looking to chase away potential customers from the area, this proposal looks to remove those who are not customers and thus create a more attractive area for those who are, and those who might wish to be,” SIC transport engineer Colin Gair wrote.

Meanwhile area commander Angus MacInnes wrote in to say that the police had no objections to the proposal.

The bollards will be erected at the edge of Clydesdale Bank next to the parking area beside The Thule bar.

The committee has also agreed to hold a public inquiry into pedestrianizing Harrison Square, the short thoroughfare that runs past the Cancer Research charity shop.

The shop manager Dianne Gear objected to the plan saying that would adversely affect the shop, which raises £100,000 a year for the cancer charity.

The proposal has the support of the business development group Living Lerwick and from the police.