FOOTFALL on a pedestrianised part of town has increased, according to the council.

St James Street in Taunton was pedestrianised from May earlier this year, and the first monitoring report from Somerset West and Taunton Council has seen a 4.4 per cent rise in visitors to the street.

The first report covers from May to July this year, with the trial expected to end in May next year.

A package of monitoring measures was put in place so the effects of the scheme could be reviewed with reports and meetings every three months including local stakeholders, traders and highways representatives.

It found there to be less traffic on North Street during the day and the council says the highway network is 'coping well'.

Cllr Marcus Kravis, executive member for economic development, said: “The aim of this project is to create a better environment for residents, shoppers and visitors, which will help attract investment.

"The trial closure is giving us a chance to work with the shops and businesses in and around St James Street to address any concerns as they arise.

"Our intention is to help the retail community in this area to thrive with the creation of public spaces that are attractive and inviting with fewer vehicles, less pollution and reduced noise in line with our status as the first garden town in the South West.”

Some traders in the area have lodged complaints about the scheme, which the council says it is addressing.