The controversial People Friendly Salisbury scheme is to be suspended indefinitely from the end of this month.

After a disastrous launch of the much-heralded and much-criticised scheme, Wiltshire Council and the city council, which refused to confirm support for the scheme have cut the concept. Salisbury Business Improvement District (BID) had asked for the scheme to be suspended.

Wiltshire Council said it was unable to continue ‘given the lack of explicit support from the city council and the Salisbury BID’.

In a long statement of justification and partly-critical of the sudden U-turn, Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “We are very disappointed and surprised that Salisbury City Council will not offer their continued support for People Friendly Salisbury. The city council was pivotal to the scheme and provided clear backing.

“The initiative was implemented as part of the council’s wider strategy to support Salisbury and was an excellent way to help reduce traffic within the city, improve air quality and give pedestrians priority in the city centre. It was designed to help transform the city, making it a more attractive place to visit, shop and work. Early evidence proves the scheme is having a positive impact with equal number of shoppers visiting the centre while the traffic is halved. As with other such schemes elsewhere in the UK, more time would have been required to see all the economic, social and environmental benefits.

“We know that many residents and businesses are advocates of this initiative and Wiltshire Council remains committed to the scheme. However, unfortunately, without the continued support of partners and stakeholders, at this time we cannot continue with People Friendly Salisbury.”