A DISPUTE over a city centre ‘rat run’ has taken a fresh turn.

Businesses in The Square said they did not want traffic restrictions enforced in their road, Great Minster Street and Market Street because it passing traffic brings in more customers.

The road is supposed to be for resident and business use only under city council restrictions imposed when the roads were repaved in a joint city and county council project last year.

Residents of nearby St Swithun Street and Symonds Street say drivers are ignoring the restrictions, using it as a rat run through the city at dangerous speeds.

But Keith Scorgie, managing director at Design House, said: “We do not want the road closed to traffic. There’s very few cars that break the speed limit along here and drivers are sensible and we get people coming in because they drive past and look in our windows.

“I don’t see how anyone expects closing Great Minster Street to traffic will help as it will push more traffic into Symonds Street and St Swithun Street and it’s locals who use it most to get around the one-way system because they know how to.”

James Marshall, system designer at Bang and Olufsen, added: “Our position is we want cars coming past. It’s handy for our customers because they can drive in, park up and pick things up.

“The street is quieter anyway since the restrictions came in but sometimes it can be a ghost street and we don’t want to see that.”

County leader Ken Thornber is expected to rubber stamp similar plans to repave Great Minster Street at a decision day next Thursday (Jan 24).

It will cost £300,000 with the county to fund £240,000 and the city contributing £60,000.

The work is due to start in mid April and finish by June to avoid disruption to the Hat Fair and businesses during the summer.

Councillor Thornber said: "By continuing the improvements along Great Minster Street, we hope this will help to enhance the area even further and encourage more people to visit Winchester and see what it has to offer."
Keith Wood, leader of Winchester City Council, added: "This is an important scheme in the historic heart of Winchester that benefits local residents and visitors.”