AN “explosion of wonderful happenings” should be planned in order to revive the flagging town centre after the coronavirus pandemic, an events guru has said.

Don Quinn, who runs events firm Snake In the Grass with business partner Terry Croucher, says council bosses and retailers need to think outside the box to revive Colchester town centre’s fortunes.

Last year, the duo devised a simple survey asking residents what they wanted from the town centre. Asking customers at their popular Castle Park events, a whopping 87 per cent of respondents said “exciting town events” would bring them into town.

Pedestrianising the High Street was also an idea welcomed by 76 per cent of residents.

Mr Quinn said: “The news High Street shops will open again on June 15 is hopefully good news.

“For our town centre shops it will be like rain on the desert sand. But there is no doubt even before lockdown our town centre shops were suffering.

“Lots of our shops are empty and there will be more to follow. It is potentially a downward spiral.

“I believe a vibrant buzzing town centre is absolutely vital to a healthy and happy town.

“But it’s not just the responsibility of the town hall, but retailers themselves must be prepared to pitch in and think outside their normal roles.

“They need to realise that to attract people into the town, and their shops, the town must offer more than just shopping. It can be done and is being done in other towns.

“We need carnivals, music, fun, plays, street theatre, parades, festivals, book fairs and lots of bright ideas to make our town centre attractive. We need an explosion of wonderful happenings.”

Mr Quinn pointed to Invasion Colchester and the Trinity Street market as brilliant examples which could be replicated.

He added: “Above all it needs some co-ordination and that should be the responsibility of the town hall.

“The major problem with the High Street is clear. It is traffic.

“Plans to make the High Street pedestrian only have been knocking about for years. As a town we simply don’t seem to have the courage to get this done.

“Other towns have and are benefitting sometimes at our expense. Let’s stop traffic on the High Street now.

“ The plans are there and the public are behind the idea, now let’s get on with the job.”

Plans to pedestrianise the High Street have been considered for many years. A partial traffic ban in 2013 failed.

In January, Colchester Council’s policy and public initiatives panel recommended a study be conducted into reducing traffic in the High Street.

Various options, from no change to full pedestrianisation, were set to be examined.

A Gazette poll of 866 readers found views were divided, with 53 per cent in favour and 47 per cent against pedestrianisation.