Traffic banned from Belvoir Street, Leicester to improve safety
Police concerns over public safety have led to the trial pedestrianisation at weekends of a street bustling with bars and clubs.
Belvoir Street, Leicester, will be closed to traffic from 10pm to 4am on Fridays and Saturdays for five weeks from this Friday.
Chief Inspector Adam Streets said: "With such a high concentration of the city's bars and clubs in Belvoir Street it was inevitable that there would be a large volume of traffic and pedestrians in the area during the weekends.
"Public safety is always at the forefront of our minds and for a number of months officers on duty in the area have felt that the issues of congestion and public safety needed to be addressed, in particular the problems traffic could cause for emergency service vehicles."
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Leicestershire Police, the city council, the Belvoir Street Business Association and the Highways Agency agreed to the temporary closure.
Frank Ioannou, owner of Ocean Blue Food Bar, said: "I'm looking forward to it as a trial. It might get more people walking up the street."
Ben Howe, manager at Las Iguanas restaurant, said: "I think it's a very good idea. Safety on the street is a key issue. Personally, I think the street should be pedestrianised all the time. It would help the area really take off."
Dan Heyworth, deputy manager at Fat Cat Cafe Bar, said: "It's good that they're giving it a trial. I think it will increase safety and footfall and possibly draw in new business.
"It would be better if it was pedestrianised all the time, because we could have seating out the front and bring more of a cafe culture feel to the street."
But Shadi Elfath, 20, duty manager at Zizzi's restaurant, said it already had a problem with partygoers making noise when their customers were trying to eat.
"I believe that the pedestrianisation of the area will only serve to increase numbers and fuel these existing issues," he said.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "Ensuring that people feel safe is a key ingredient to a successful night-time economy and we will be very interested to see the impact of these temporary changes in this popular area of the city centre."
Taxi driver Gurpal Singh Atwal, secretary of the Leicester branch of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, said: "Something needs to be done about the congestion.
"I think it's a very good thing."
A decision will be made on whether to make it a permanent closure after the trial.