Cars banned from town centre streets as shops reopen
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A market town will begin pedestrianising business areas to let shops and restaurants safely reopen while allowing social distancing.
From Monday, June 15, a number of shops have been given the go-ahead to reopen so long as distancing is observed.
Beccles Town Council has now approved temporary road traffic measures to ban vehicles from using part of New Market alongside a portion of either Blyburgate or Hungate in order to give businesses a chance to continue trading while ensuring the safety of customers when they reopen, with the streets expected to be used as outdoor seating areas.
Makeshift plans agreed by the town council on Tuesday, June 2, also show temporary one-way systems for pedestrians and widened footways will be created elsewhere to ensure 2m distance can be kept between those visiting the town centre.
While safety was the priority, councillors said they hoped the one-way systems and pedestrianised streets would have the added benefits of reducing traffic and parking in the town centre, while encouraging locals to walk and cycle more.
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Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw said the plans were broadly approved in order to “give businesses the confidence to open and people the confidence to come into town again”.
She added: “It is an ideal time for experimentation with reduced traffic and schools closed, and the consequence of not acting could be far worse for our local economy.”
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The council stressed the plans had only been approved “in principle and are subject to change”, making clear temporary barriers would be put in place before June 15 to “be bold and experimental”. If the measures are successful they could become permanent.
The interim plans were drawn up by county councillors Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw and Mark Bee, alongside East Suffolk councillors Graham Elliott and Caroline Topping after consultation with nearby businesses and public transport operators.
Mr Bee said: “It’s about stimulating the environment as people emerge from lockdown.”
If businesses or residents experience any issues with the temporary measures when installed, they are urged to give feedback to the council.
The county councillors will then bid for a portion of a £220,000 pot for regenerating towns and villages in East Suffolk to implement the measures.