Ottery St Mary food festival launches road closure petition

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

More than 90 people sign in favour of car-free market square

Organisers of an Ottery festival are seeking support in their bid to boost town centre trade and improve safety by pedestrianising the former market square.

More than 90 people have so far signed a petition calling for Broad Street to be closed to traffic for one day on Saturday, June 4, to allow stalls to take over the space and create a ‘safe and vibrant honeypot for the community’.

This will mark the fourth year of the annual Food and Families Festival and, after a failed bid to close the main thoroughfare in 2015, organisers are hoping to mobilise public support before putting a formal proposal to Devon County Council (DCC).

Organiser Ruud Jansen Venneboer, of Mazzard Farm, believes pedestrianising the site – once home to a twice-weekly farmers’ market – would enhance the festival experience and also drive more foot traffic to businesses in the town.

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He said: “In the grand scheme, this is one day out of 366 [this year]. Last year was the first time we were able to bring the market back into the square. A lot of the feedback asked why did we not close the road to traffic.

“If we can achieve it and allow the buses through before 10am and again from 5pm, it should not impact people too badly.

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“It’s about making this a very good festival throughout the town where people can enjoy it. This is partly about bringing a buzz into the town and showing the great businesses and shops that are permanently here. As a festival, we want to promote local food and drink in the town.”

He added that last year the main obstacle cited by DCC’s highways department was the problem of re-routing buses, but organisers hope this can be overcome with alternative routes and clear signposting.

The festival is run on a not-for-profit basis and aims to celebrate local producers, products and chefs.

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