PLANS to pedestrianise a part of Taunton have been delayed AGAIN.

St James St was set to close to cars in the New Year, but plans have been paused after a petition with more than 300 signatures opposing the plans was delivered to the council.

Taunton Deane Borough Council said the consultation brought in 31 letters of support and 19 against, but local traders organised the petition which has caused the council to rethink its actions.

Cllr Richard Parrish, Executive member for Planning Policy and Transportation, said: “The council is committed to making Taunton town centre more user friendly, improving the area for pedestrians and cyclists in line with its status as the first Garden Town in the South West. We aim to create a better environment for residents, shoppers and visitors, which will help attract investment and also allow businesses to thrive.

"With this in mind, despite having received a great deal of support for the plan, we feel it is important to listen to the concerns of those that have signed the petition.

"We all share a common desire to act in the best interests of Taunton so need to work together on this.”

The council says it has listened to the concerns of the traders and will be setting up a 'working group' with all interested stakeholders in the New Year in hopes of moving the plans forward.

The public space improvement project was set to be completed in two phases with the closure of a section of St James Street followed by an 18-month trial closure of Hammet Street and East Street to all vehicles except buses and cyclists. This pause is the latest set back in the saga which started in autumn last year.

The authority says it will need to re-consult on revised schemes for Hammett St and East St so decided it makes sense to reconsider St James St in this further consultation.

Simon Willetts, of Combers Hair Salon, who has previously voiced strong opinions on the matter, said: "It's better to set up a working group with traders than to pay for consultations to tell you want you want to hear."

A spokesman from Alpha Clothing said: "We will believe it when they set up the meeting. We need actions not words.

"The petition was started by all the traders. We reached 300 but there would have been plenty more that would sign it.

"The council need to be listening and talking to the people that work here. It should be from the ground up, not from the top down. It's our town."

Taunton Deane Borough Council and Somerset County Council will continue working on the details of the proposed changes with the appointed transport and urban design specialists WSP.