Essex County Councillor for Witham Northern, Ross Playle, has successfully secured a road closure of Newland Street in Witham for the Town Council’s hugely anticipated Christmas Fayre event.
The Christmas Fayre was put on for the first-time last year and saw in the region of four thousand residents flock to the high street for the lights switch on and other festive activities. Shops also stayed open late, with additional street stalls, to welcome customers, giving local businesses a much-needed Christmas revenue boost.
However, the required road closure for this year’s event to go ahead came into jeopardy earlier this month when Essex County Council made clear it would not grant a full road closure of Newland Street between Mill Lane and Maldon Road. The local authority claimed this was because in the scenario that traffic needed to be diverted off the A12 and along Newland Street, despite the Fayre running as such last year with no problems.
Cllr Playle argued that this was a once-a-year exception and should there be an incident on the A12, traffic would not normally be actively directed through the town.
Braintree District Councillor and Cabinet Member of Economic Development, Tom Cunningham, also weighed in, writing to Essex County Council, urging for a rethink and to recognise the huge benefit this event brought to small businesses at a critical time for the local economy.
Following, intensive lobbying efforts from the local councilors, Essex County Council agreed to the road closure, allowing the event to take place in full.
Witham Town Council’s Christmas Fayre takes place on Saturday 3rd December between 3pm – 7pm in Newland Street with the festive light switch on at 7pm.
Commenting, Cllr Ross Playle said:
“Last year’s inaugural Christmas Fayre surpassed all expectations and brought the whole community together with some early festive cheer.
“The Town Council were left at a loss when they were told they couldn’t have the Newland Street road closure for this year’s event.
“It has taken some doing with lobbying on behalf of the Town Council from myself and others but I’m delighted that we have now managed to secure the full road closure and can look forward to a wonderful event!
“I want to thank Tom and his team from the District Council who did a sterling job at helping to make a convincing case for a rethink on the original decision.”
Cllr Tom Cunningham added:
“I know how important local town centre events are to our communities, retailers, and businesses, particularly the Christmas event. The opportunity for the town to come together and for retailers to benefit from increased footfall is hugely important.
“Witham does these events brilliantly and I am very pleased that Braintree District Council could play its part in helping make sure this year’s event goes ahead and am sure will be a great success.
“I am grateful that Essex County Council have changed their original decision.”