Coronavirus: Good progress made in work to help people safely visit Shropshire’s market towns
Shropshire Council is making good progress in its work to ensure that people can safely and easily visit and navigate the county’s market towns in line with social distancing regulations once shops and other businesses start to re-open from next month.
Ways to make the town centres more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly are under consideration, along with signage, road markings, car park improvements and the possible temporary closures of roads. The operation and cleaning of buses is also being looked at.
Council officers and councillors are in the process of visiting towns across the county to meet with local town councils and business representatives to see and better understand what changes could or should be made.
Visits have been, or will be, made to Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Oswestry, Ellesmere, Whitchurch, Wem, Bishop’s Castle, Bridgnorth, Market Drayton, Much Wenlock, Church Stretton, Cleobury Mortimer, Albrighton and Broseley.
Warning signs – using Department for Transport designs – started to go up in these towns yesterday (Thursday) to remind people about social distancing.
A number of measures are currently under consideration and could be agreed and introduced in the coming days and weeks, subject to design work, funding and legal considerations.
- Reduce the approach lanes to two on Ditherington Road and Telford Way to enable safer crossing movements for pedestrians and cyclists at this location.
- Trial contraflow cycle lane on New Street.
- Contraflow cycle lane on Castle Street.
- Possible social distancing measures on Victoria Quay, Pride Hill and High Street.
Oswestry – Making Church Street one-way with reallocation of pedestrian space, loading bays and disabled bays.
Ludlow – Pedestrianisation/re-allocation of road space on King Street.
Whitchurch – closure of High Street to traffic and reallocation of highway space for amenity and trade.
Much Wenlock – possible closure of – or one-way system on – Wilmore Street
Ellesmere – reallocation of carriageway space for pedestrians to reduce potential pedestrian conflict.
Wem – one-way system on High Street.
Church Stretton – one-way system on High Street, with revised on-street parking restrictions.
Market Drayton – reallocation of carriageway space for pedestrians to reduce potential pedestrian conflict.
Albrighton – reallocation of carriageway space for pedestrians to reduce potential pedestrian conflict.
Bishop’s Castle – One way system on High Street, with revised on-street parking restrictions and enforcement.
Additional cycle parking countywide is also being considered, along with the reallocation of road space, removal or relocation of parking and loading to alleviate pedestrian conflict and social distancing issues, as well as the issue of queuing at banks, ATMs and bus stops.
All of the schemes will be temporary but Shropshire Council will monitor and evaluate each one to see if there is a positive impact that would justify possible future permanent solutions.
If schemes raise any issues once implemented, due to their temporary nature they can quickly be removed.
Steve Davenport, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said:
“We’ve been working hard over the past couple of weeks to review our town centres and consider what changes and improvements could be made. We’re visiting each of the main market towns, and holding discussions with local councillors and partners.
“These are proposed actions with more detail still to be added following our assessments, and what and how much we’re able to bring forward will depend on funding, resources and further design work.
“We’ll announce our final plans for each town as soon as everything is agreed and confirmed.
“Initially we’ll implement schemes as trials or temporary measures, and we’ll regularly monitor and review them to help determine if they should be made permanent in the future.”
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for assets, economic growth and regeneration said:
“With many shops starting to reopen from 15 June we want to ensure that people can visit and support our town centres and their traders, while following the social distancing rules.
“Our aim is to support public safety, build confidence in our town centres, and work with our partners to identify possible improvements and allow the economy to recover. In short, we want to encourage people to visit our market towns and support our traders, and we’ll do whatever we can to help make this possible, in line with the latest regulations, and in close collaboration with our partners, local businesses and local councillors.
“We’re working at pace to support the opening of our town centres, balancing the need safety with the needs of the local economy and following all the latest Government guidance and advice about social distancing, town centres transport, bus safety and more. I’m confident that this work will have a positive impact on our businesses and our town centres.”
The council’s approach is organised around four temporary ‘key actions’:
1. Supporting key market towns – through the creation of safe spaces, walking and cycling routes, road closures, 20 mph, pedestrianisation, car parking alongside public transport services.
2. Prioritising active travel in town centres – so that walking and cycling is the way most people get around their local area most of the time and these become places where people are put first, creating stronger communities.
3. Reallocating space – so that it feels and looks safer.
4. Managing demand through parking measures – where land and space currently occupied by car parking could be repurposed for walking, cycling and social distancing