TRAFFIC is to be allowed to use East Street from later this month in a bid to address the severe traffic congestion suffered in Taunton over the past two weeks.

Somerset County Council's highways teams has decided to remove the temporary closure of the street, where vehicles have been banned since last summer to ease social distancing.

Essential works by the developer of a new residential block in the Paul Street area led to significant delays for motorists from Monday of last week.

A county council spokesperson said that measures taken by the developer and the highways teams on the ground had led to improved traffic flow this week, with delays on average now comparable to a normal busy day.

However, the developer has informed County Hall that there are further disruptive periods of work involving the Paul Street scheme coming up – starting week commencing May 24.

Therefore, a decision was made to inform Somerset West and Taunton Council to remove the current East Street closure from that week, to allow the travelling public to choose which route they wish to take.

This follows detailed consideration by Somerset County Council taking into account the anticipated disruption associated with the works.

Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Highways said: “We fully understand and share the concerns of road users and local people about the congestion in Taunton and our teams are continuing to work tirelessly to ensure traffic flow is maintained and disruption is kept to a minimum while essential developer works, both here and across Taunton, are carried out.

“We recognise the strength of feeling both for and against the longer term closure of East Street, our condition for supporting a permanent pedestrianisation proposal has always been, and remains, that there needs to be a comprehensive, ongoing and meaningful consultation with businesses, road users and residents.”

Businesses have complained of falling trade due to the congestion, while motorists and pedestrians have also demanded the opening of East Street.