Controversial benches to remain in place despite picnic ban

Benches have been added to North Walsham's market place. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Benches were added to North Walsham's market place last year. - Credit: Archant

Controversial benches installed in town centre parking spaces will remain in place despite a ban on picnics and non-exercise meet-ups.

The picnic benches installed in North Walsham Market Place were described as "pedestrianisation through the Covid door" by traders when they were installed in July last year, with concerns they were taking up spaces necessary for disabled shoppers.

Despite government guidelines which say two people from different households are only allowed to meet up for exercise and outdoor picnics are outlawed, North Norfolk District Council confirmed that the benches would remain in place.

A council spokesperson said: "These benches have been put in place as part of our social distancing measures which were implemented across the district in July 2020.

"As the nation remains in lockdown they will stay in place for the foreseeable future to continue to allow social distancing to take place when the current lockdown restrictions are lifted.”

Bob White, who owns Showcase Gallery in the town, led a protest against measures in the town centre last year which saw the benches introduced and roads closed.

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