Traffic could be banned from some city streets when shops reopen

St Benedicts Street in Norwich. Picture: Simon Parkin

St Benedicts Street in Norwich. Picture: Simon Parkin - Credit: Simon Parkin

A number of city centre roads could be shut, pavements widened and pedestrian streets made one way when Norwich shops reopen next week.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor. - Credit: Archant

The government has confirmed that non-essential shops can reopen from Monday, June 15, having been shut since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were introduced in March.

And Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters has revealed how City Hall is keen to get a number of roads temporarily closed to traffic to try to help people keep to the two-metre social distancing rules.

At a virtual meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee, Mr Waters said City Hall had approached the county council, now responsible for the highways in the city, with a plan, including for social distancing signs.

And he said: “We clearly want to widen pavements to enable people to move around and where there are narrow pavements in The Lanes and Bridewell Alley, we have been looking at one-way systems.”

He said the council was keen to shut some roads to traffic, including Magdalen Street, St Benedicts Street , Exchange Street and Upper St Giles.

He said the council would also have a licensing role with businesses wanting to extend beyond their usual properties, such as outside tables and chairs.

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He said: “It’s a rather concertinaed timetable, given by the end of July, all of the city centre will be open, so these things need to be in place very quickly.”

The committee, which considered a recovery plan for how Norwich will move on from the coronavirus restrictions, also heard the authority is facing a £7m budget gap, partly due to the cost of dealing with the virus.

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Mr Waters said he would be keeping pressure on the government to reimburse the council for the money spent.

He said Norwich had the third lowest coronavirus death rates in the country and praised people for sticking to the restrictions.

He said: “If that funding is not provided, that would be punishment for the citizens of this city.”

Chief executive Stephen Evans said the £7m was a “significant” figure and, while the council has reserves, there is likely to be pressure for years to come.

He said, as far as possible, “visible cuts to front line services” would be avoided, as would compulsory redundancies of staff.

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