Letters to the BV Editor July 2021


We have all been told how wonderful the pedestrianisation of Shaftesbury High Street is and how people are now flocking there to shop.
We have seen pictures of the crowded street full of people.
But how about on a normal day?
The lack of parking due to the closure is now effecting the town. I have witnessed tourists trying to park in the Bell St car park and driving off when there are no spaces. I have been asked by tourists where they can park as they have tried all the car parks they can find in the town.
The town council stress how much safer people feel in the High Street with it being pedestrianised. The trouble is that the High Street is only partially pedestrianised. Busses, delivery vehicles and even private cars are driving through the high street in both directions. Far faster than the 5mph allowed. It is only a matter of time before someone is going to be lulled into a false sense of security and knocked down and killed. I believe this has already happened in Salisbury.
I am aware of a petition that was submitted to STC which contained 40 signatures from businesses against pedestrianisation. According to STC 80% of businesses are for it.
Are there really 200 businesses in the High Street?

I know of a business based in Semley who used to regularly come up to collect lunch from the Salt Cellar. But due to the pedestrianisation not any more. Helen from the Baguette bar has also lost business from the industrial estates.
I’m not particularly against or for the pedestrianisation, for me it’s just an inconvenience for my clients and staff. I have had an office opposite the Town Hall for the last 21 years so I have got a bit of experience on how the High Street works. However what I am concerned about is the way STC are conducting their surveys and their ‘findings’
Pedestrianisation is not something to be taken lightly. Full and proper consultation needs to be completed by an independent body. The residents of Bell Street and even Gold Hill and St James need to be consulted, as they are all being effected by increased traffic flows and parking problems.

Reports commissioned by STC over the last 20 years have all said Shaftesbury is short of parking spaces. Pedestrianisation removes 200 one hour parking slots per day. Leaving Shaftesbury up to 500 parking slots per day short. And that’s according to one of the reports commissioned by STC!

Pedestrianisation may be a popularist policy. But without further consideration of the potentially dire consequences it should not happen.
Adrian Thompson

There are many views about the pedestrianisation of Shaftesbury High Street but there is a clear majority of some 87% in favour of it which includes disabled people. Councillors have listened to comments and have reduced the pedestrian period allowing car access for longer.
If disabled people need access to banks or shops after 4pm when the shop or bank might close then that shop or bank has a duty to open to provide the disabled customers with the service.

At the end of the day the decision is not with the Town Council nor do we have a decision about the final details as these matters lie with Dorset Council.

I suggested the council lease and operate a golf buggy to transport people from the disabled parking, like the airport buggies, however covid regulations made it impractical. It is an option though you can imagine the cost over a year!

Some people expect to drive and park outside the shop door, which the proposal would allow for 25% of the working day, which you cannot do at West Quay or other shopping centres
Cllr Philip Proctor

I’m really enjoying the quality of the photos in your magazine – do you have any plans for a print version one day?
F Greeves,

I’m afraid not Fiona – we deeply believe in the environmental benefits of a digital publication, plus at over 100 pages with a strong focus on high resolution beautiful imagery, each magazine would cost over £10. Currently, in order to make print viable we would have to sacrifice content and quality – neither of which we wish to do!

I wonder if readers have noticed that the minute England won the match against Germany the sun came out and has stayed shining. Do you think this is just a coincidence or are they linked?
You appear to have good writers on your mag – what about an investigation?
VB, Shaftesbury

I’ve taken advice from an expert on the England team, who is also an expert on lounging about doing nothing in the sunshine while moaning, and my 18 year old son assures me that it’s definitely linked. He says ‘it’s the hand of God blessing the righteous.’ – Ed

I’m fairly new to this area and I am very happily surprised at the confidence Dorset people have: reacting to the lockdowns by starting new businesses, extending their business and being incredibly community-minded.
I’m pretty sure we’ll be a more harmonious and prosperous society post-Covid. It’ll take a while but we’ll get there. One of your funnier columnists wrote a piece about it in a previous issue, quoting the economic views of ‘Professor’ Noddy Holder, the singer of Slade.
It was amusing but also accurate, in my view.Government has got used to spending big – when tax revenues return (all forecasts predict it will be sooner, not later) I hope and believe that they will continue to think big.
W Smith,

(That’ll be Andy Palmer’s ramblings in the May issue of Tales From the Vale here – Ed)

I was amazed to read about the retired RAF pilot who served in the Falklands. What an incredibly brave and skilled man – and what heroes we have quietly living in our midst.
Sally B,
Sturminster Newton

Sally, they’re not living all that ‘quietly’ as you will read if you glance at our follow-up article on a ‘Famous flier ‘annoys’ BV Magazine journalist’ here… Ed

I live in Okeford Fitzpaine, not far from the old dairy site and the houses that were featured in the last ‘Then & Now’ column. How fascinating it was, still within living memory for some. I felt rather sad the next day, walking down the street and remembering those who were once there.
Lucy P, Okeford Fitzpaine


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