Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival organisers hope it will be third time lucky for bid

Artist's impression of car-free Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival

Artist's impression of car-free Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival - Credit: Archant

Town backs proposal to close Broad Street

Saira Hamilton and Tina Chauhan-Challis demonstrating their skills at last year's Ottery St Mary Foo

Saira Hamilton and Tina Chauhan-Challis demonstrating their skills at last year's Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival. Ref sho 5711-25-14SH Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Ottery businesses and representatives are backing a bid to pedestrianise the former market square for an event ‘that does the town proud’.

Organisers of the Food and Families Festival hope it will be third time lucky as they put a proposal before Devon County Council (DCC) highways bosses to close Broad Street for eight hours on Saturday, June 4.

This will mark the event’s fourth year and, after two failed attempts to close the main thoroughfare, the festival committee has won the backing of Ottery Town Council and the chamber of commerce. A petition in favour of the move has garnered 400 signatures.

Those in support of the plans - which will see market stalls and entertainment lining a traffic-free Broad Street - say it will improve safety, add to the celebratory atmosphere, increase footfall in the town and benefit businesses.

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Speaking before a town council meeting on Monday, chairman of the festival committee, Ruud Jansen Venneboer, said: “Our view is that every so often we should stick our neck out a bit and do something a bit different. There were quite a few people who said this will never work in Ottery – we have proved it does work. We are really hoping that this will be third time lucky. Without trying it, we will never know if it’s going to be a massive disruption to the town or a massive enhancement. Give us a chance to try this and I promise if it does not work I will eat humble pie.”

Councillor Geoff Pratt said: “This is an event that does the town proud and we should support it.”

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Cllr Roger Giles called the festival an ‘amazing event’ for Ottery and his proposal to write a letter of support to DCC was carried.

There was some concern about where buses will go with access through the town centre cut off, but Mr Jansen Venneboer said there will be access for public transport between 10.10am and 4.50pm, with diversions in place for the interim period.

The proposal also includes marshals to allow emergency vehicle access and the closure would not affect traffic flow between Hind Street and Mill Street.

Ottery chamber of commerce chair Viv Abbott said: “The chamber looks forward to the exciting events planned for the food festival and wish the organisers every success. New visitors to our town are always very welcome.”

Speaking about the bid, Rosalind Browne – owner of Roberts hardware shop in Broad Street – said: “The festival is the best thing that has happened to the town in years. It brings people in and shows Ottery in a really good light. It’s just a fun event. We will get more footfall and more interest in the town centre if it’s closed.

Marie Quest, of Frockalicious, agreed the closure would encourage people to come up through the town centre and Katie Carpenter, of Poppy’s, said it would make it safer – especially for families with young children.

Ian Pearson, of Pearson’s News in Silver Street, said he has reservations about the plan and its viability.

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