‘The cherry on top’ - boost for Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival

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

Success for bid to pedestrianise town’s former market square

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

An ambitious bid to pedestrianise Ottery’s former market square for the Food and Families Festival is set to succeed in the wake of overwhelming support.

This will represent a landmark victory for the event that, after two failed attempts, is finally on track to secure the closure of Broad Street to traffic between 9am and 5pm on Saturday, June 4.

Organisers say it would be the ‘cherry on top’ for the community festival and will improve safety, add to the celebratory atmosphere, increase footfall and enable them to double the number of market stalls.

Ruud Jansen Vennoboer, of Mazzard Farm, has spearheaded the campaign to close Ottery’s main thoroughfare. He said: “It will make a massive difference in my opinion. If we look at the feedback over the last three years, which was predominantly positive, the only criticism was ‘why could we not have got the town shut off?’. This is the cherry on the top as far as the festival is concerned. The pavements got a bit crowded last year and for the market traders, having traffic going on behind, it was quite dodgy.

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“It’s always been very much a community event and long may that last. It’s something for the people of the town and if others want to come and join they are very welcome too. I think we have probably this year achieved the ultimate and optimum size.”

He added that pedestrianising the square enables more music and entertainment and will provide a better link to children’s activities in The Institute.

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On the day, buses will have access before 10.10am and after 4.50pm and there will be a safety corridor for emergency vehicles.

Mike Price, of Otter Produce in Broad Street, welcomed the news and said it will really showcase the town centre by allowing people to relax and see what’s on offer.

Ruud said the campaign’s success this year rested on the help, hard work and support of many, including traders and the hundreds of people who signed a petition in support.

He thanked Ottery Town Council, in particular the work of Councillor Geoff Pratt, the chamber of commerce, Devon County Council’s (DCC) highways department and Stagecoach.

A spokesman for DCC said: “We’ve been working hard with the festival organisers in trying to overcome previous difficulties in closing the square in Ottery for this event. A crucial element is accommodating the wishes of the bus operator and ensuring access for emergency vehicles is immediately available during the closure period. Consultation has taken place with bus operators, traders and, importantly, the emergency services. The Temporary Traffic Regulation Order for the road closure is in the process of being finalised.”

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