Review urges action to ease fayre congestion

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A REVIEW of Bury St Edmunds’ acclaimed Christmas Fayre has recommended that problems with parking, traffic congestion and crowd control should be addressed urgently.

The findings, presented to St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny committee, highlight the issues associated with the ever-increasing size of the three-day event, which attracted more than 100,000 people last year.

Organisers estimate the fair has generated about £5.5 million of economic activity with £1.6 million brought in by those whose purpose was to solely visit the event.

A report from a task and finish group, set up by the committee to evaluate the fayre, said: “While it is impossible to regulate how many attend a free open event, it was felt that the size was an issue in relation to parking, traffic congestion and crowd control, and that these areas should be looked at as a matter of urgency.”

They have made a number of recommendations including the need for extra or alternative park and ride sites as the existing facilities in Olding Road and Kempson Way were full each day by 11am and could have been filled twice over.

The group also called for a system of segmentation with each area of the fayre managed by an officer or steward.

To help alleviate congestion and aid visitor flow, a map could be produced to advertise other routes and quieter times around the town.

Another option for consideration is to spread the fayre into places such as Risbygate Street and utilising the space between the Cattle Market car park and the arc.

Cllr David Nettleton, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee, said: “As more people come in we’ve got to improve it. It’s about accessibility. We don’t want them to be hacked off by a long traffic jam. It’s about whatever we can bring in on a temporary basis and maybe hopefully keep that going over the Christmas period.”