Bristol traders react with anger to pedestrian plans

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People eating food after sundown
Image caption,
St Mark's Road in Easton has attracted worldwide attention for its Grand Iftar meal held during Ramadan

Traders on a Bristol street named best in the UK in 2019 have reacted angrily at plans to pedestrianise part of it.

The city council is considering changes to St Mark's Road in Easton between Henrietta Street and Berwick Road.

Abdul Malik, who owns Pak Butchers, said: "Post-Covid, we've all struggled and sacrificed a lot to stay open, even this discussion is not welcome."

The council said it wanted to create "more liveable neighbourhoods that are free from pollution."

Mr Malik said that customers who travelled from as far as Exeter and Swindon would struggle to park in the otherwise residential area.

"We had no consultation from the council, these plans have been made by someone in an ivory tower.

"You can't have something shoved down our throat and politicians saying they know better than the shopkeepers."

His comments were echoed by Yusuf Ahmed who runs Gulzar Fancy Goods opposite.

"I've been here 40 years and we are losing trade because people can't park nearby - the road should be left as it is."

'Unfortunate' debate

A debate on the plans has erupted on Facebook, with petitions for and against the plans.

Councillor Afzal Shah said he sympathised with the traders, but added "if we don't have this conversation now it will come back again".

"It's unfortunate the way things are playing out online, that energy needs to be used for constructive solutions.

"We're spending £60,000 of money to improve the street in other ways, but we can't ignore the people dying from air pollution in inner-city areas."

Bristol City Council said it was looking at "community conversations to find ways to create more liveable neighbourhoods that are free from congestion and pollution."