A CAMPAIGNER has accused a council of abandoning its ban on cars driving in Colchester’s High Street after recording 120 cars using the road in a single hour.

Peter Kay, of Colchester Bus Users’ Support Group, said Essex County Council was neglecting to enforce traffic restrictions in the busy town-centre road.

Mr Kay has undertaken regular traffic surveys in the road since the ban was put in place in June.

The council said the rules were introduced to increase space for pedestrians and enable social distancing as retailers reopened following the national lockdown.

But Mr Kay said during the first weeks of the restriction, his surveys recorded 60 cars per hour flouting the ban.

This figure rose to 120 cars per hour, a figure which has remained consistent since his most recent survey last week.

“People are realising that there is no real interest in monitoring it,” he said.

“The counts were all done in late afternoon Monday to Friday.

“This equates to about 1,500 cars per day down the High Street, but I did not count vans and probably most of them had no actual business there.

“You can contrast that with the North Hill car ban, where it is rare to see even one car come up North Hill in an hour.”

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He added: “It has been a fiasco.

“You see views from both sides, with some people saying it is wonderful for the environment and others saying it is destroying trade, but there is no analysis.

“There was an opportunity to test what impact closing the High Street to cars would have on Magdalen Street and Brook Street.”

An Essex Highways spokesman said: “Nothing has changed, the High Street ban on general traffic, including private cars, remains, as part of the Covid-19 emergency response measures.

“It is important that drivers observe the ban, which is enforceable by police, as part of the work to make space for social distancing and active travel.

"Drivers must not drive along Colchester High St, unless they have a ‘blue badge’ and a need to stop somewhere there, or are a goods vehicle loading or unloading.

"Further improvements to signs and enforcement will be considered.”