'Milton Keynes Council has killed off our town,' claim traders

A combination of Covid safety measures and major rail works has had a devastating effect on businesses in Bletchley.
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Furious traders in Queensway have suffered severe loss of business - some of them as much as 50 per cent - ever since the council introduced social distancing measures after lockdown.

A chunk of Queensway is closed to traffic, which traders say is inconvenient and unnecessary. Some parking bays are also closed.

The new scheme means market stallholders are banned from parking their vans next to their stalls. They have voted with their feet to trade elsewhere and this has resulted in the virtual demise of the town's traditional market.

QueenswayQueensway
Queensway

Meanwhile ongoing works by Network Rail means the entrance to Buckingham Road - a popular access route to Queensway - has been closed for weeks while contractors remove Bletchley flyover as part of the East West Rail project.

The final nail in the coffin has been a sign at the entrance to the town, on the old B&Q roundabout, intended to warn of these works. But instead of stating which roads are closed, it announces: "Queensway is closed", say traders.

"The result of all this has been devastating for all of use," said Keith Burgess, who is the manager of Palmers Butchers, one of Bletchley's most popular shops.

"We keep complaining but nobody seems to be listening and the council doesn't seem to care," he said.

Palmers butchers are considering movingPalmers butchers are considering moving
Palmers butchers are considering moving

Mr Burgess said the situation was so bad that Palmers is considering moving out of Queensway completely.

Another shop owner, Jim Marsh, runs Fabric World, a store that has drawn customers to the town for the past 50 years.

"It's terrible," he said. "Many of us have suffered a 50 per cent loss of trade. We were closed for months during lockdown then we come back to find half of Queensway is closed off to traffic.

"It's just not necessary because the pavements are wide enough for people to keep their distance anyway. We all these social distancing measures but there's hardly anyone on the pavements any more to keep their distance."

Some of the town's traders are now getting together to petition Milton Keynes Council to scrap the scheme.

The council has already abandoned a similar social distancing scheme in Newport Pagnell days after it was launched, and another scheme in Stony Stratford is currently under review.

In both cases, the measures prompted complaints of serious loss of trade from the high street businesses.

The Citizen has asked MK Council what it intends to do about Queensway. We are awaiting a reply.