PHUKET TOWN: Authorities are canvassing opinion on a proposal to convert one of Phuket Town’s oldest and best-known streets into a pedestrians-only zone at weekends. Phuket Town Mayor Phummisak Hongsyok revealed yesterday that the concept has already been put to residents of Thalang Rd, receiving a mixed reaction. Opinions are still being sought and no deadline has been set for a decision. The idea was floated by Deputy Prime Minister Pitak Intrawitayanunt when he came to Phuket last month. He also suggested at that time converting part of the Patong beach road and all of Soi Bangla into a pedestrian zone at weekends. Thalang Rd would be suitable for pedestrianization, the Mayor said, because of the appeal of its classic Sino-Portuguese architecture. The road is already closed to traffic for one weekend a year, in December, during the Old Phuket Festival, and attracts thousands of people. “If we close the road [regularly] and arrange various activities, it’s going to be another attraction to bring tourists into town,” the Mayor said. On Wednesday and Thursday, municipal officers passed out questionnaires to more than 100 residents along Thalang Rd, seeking their opinions. “Most people are afraid that if the road is turned into a walking street, it will become a weekend market like [Chatuchak Phuket] on Phang Nga Road, and they don’t want that,” the Mayor said. He made the point that Thalang Rd did not belong to residents but to all Phuket people. “However, [the residents] are the first group who will be directly affected,” he said. “Many shops on the road open on Sunday and the shopkeepers may have problems if hawkers gather in front and they cannot sell their wares.” He added that the municipality would “continue to listen to people, to see what they want”. Meanwhile, ideas for activities that might be staged in Thalang Rd, should the decision be made to close it to traffic, are being considered.
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