NORTH Berwick business owners and the town’s community council have expressed concerns about works which will see the east end of High Street closed to vehicles for two weeks.

The works, to bring about temporary changes to the street for a 12-month trial scheme, are due to start on Monday and last for no more than two weeks – though will, said East Lothian Council, “require a temporary road closure”, while access for pedestrians is maintained.

The measures – aimed at making walking safer and more pleasurable – include widening pavements, new double yellow lines, keeping some of the planters, consolidation of loading bays, fixing fallen kerbs and broken surfacing, and maintenance of street lighting.

The existing one-way system through Market Place will remain while the trial is ongoing.

Ryan Anderson, owner of Anderson’s Quality Butchers at 36 High Street, said he was frustrated by the closure of the road.

He said: “My grievance with the whole thing is that, pre-Covid, there was a plan approved for what was going to happen at the east end of High Street.

“The council have said, this is what we are going to be doing, these are the measures – which is absolutely nothing like the plan put in prior to Covid.

“As far as I’m concerned, it is an absolute back stab to the traders on the east end of the street that tried and fought tooth and nail to get to where we were, and to reach a compromise which was agreed by the council, the charrette, all the people involved in it, and now, all of a sudden, High Street and the traders on High Street aren’t being thought of at all.”

Carole Peacock, manager of Nisa on High Street, added: “We get deliveries every day of the week so we will be affected. I imagine it will be the same for the butchers.

“It’s OK for traders on the [south] side of High Street because they have back entrances for deliveries, whereas [the north] side of the street we don’t have any.”

North Berwick Community Council expressed concerns about inconvenience to residents and business owners but said “there is no way around it for the works to take place”.

Judy Lockhart-Hunter, community council chairperson, said: “We understand that East Lothian Council (ELC) has been in discussions with the business association and all deliveries will be able to get in, which was a key concern.

“We are somewhat supportive of the work that will take place.

“We had been having discussions with the council for some time. Pre-Covid, we had agreed on a strategy after many months of meetings.

“Recently, we received a note from ELC to advise that, given the changes to the east end of North Berwick High Street since the Spaces for People project for Covid-19 had begun, ELC was able to further develop the agreed plan.

“It advised that both the area partnership and the business association were supportive of the new plan.

“The community council was more hesitant; we debated as a group the pros and cons of the new plan versus the previously agreed plan. In the end, we agreed that our preference was the originally agreed plan.

“There were also concerns that disabled and elderly people have a very difficult time at the moment accessing the east end due to the lack of parking and the planters being in the way.

“Following further discussion with ELC, we have received assurances that the plan can be flexible and will be adapted as required.

“We have requested that ELC makes it clear that the loading bay in front of the police station must not be used by HGVs.

“Given it is behind the pavement, it is too narrow for them and creates a potential severe hazard.

“Additionally, we have requested that the locations and numbers of planters require to be loosely agreed at the start and then subject to final approvals as the project progresses.

“The space outside Greggs is the main pinch point and we must ensure that the new plan works for both pavement and road users.

“East Lothian Council appears keen to work with us, which is positive. We will continue monitoring the impact of the changes once they are installed and feed back to them as required.”

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “We have been in contact with the local business association to reassure businesses that access will be maintained for deliveries to premises during the works.”