TRADE bodies in Warwickshire say the temporary pedestrianisation of roads in Warwickshire town centres is critical to the confidence of shoppers and vital to small town centre businesses reopening their doors for the first time since lockdown began in late March.
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) has been working with district and borough councils and other local partners to develop temporary measures which reallocate road space to pedestrians and cyclists, and allow more space for queuing outside shops – which have been welcomed by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Trade and the West Midlands branch of the Federation of Small Businesses.
Initial schemes have been introduced in Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa, with further schemes due to be implemented in Warwick on Thursday (June 18) and in Rugby on Monday (June 22).
Temporary traffic management measures such as barriers, cones and signs communicate social distancing messages and reminders to pedestrians.
Louise Bennett, Chief Executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a vital time for the economy as we see a phased return and restart for many businesses.
“It’s important that consumers have the confidence to return to our town centres knowing that they can do so in a safe, socially distanced manner and that’s why it is so important for these kinds of preparations to be made.”
Rich Bishop, FSB West Midlands Regional Chair said “Non-essential retail, and smaller retailers in particular, have been hit hard by the lockdown. It is very good news to see independent businesses safely re-opening this week across the county.
“While temporary plans to reallocate road space need to ensure that small businesses are still accessible and deliveries can still be made, ensuring employees and customers can safely travel from homes into town centres is paramount to recovery.”
WCC leader Coun Izzi Seccombe added: “The county council is now moving into the second phase of our response to Covid-19 – that of recovery. Key to this is the economic recovery of the region and that needs our town centres to become the hub of local enterprise that they were until recently.
“We have created significantly more space for the footfall to enable safe social distancing. If the extra space is allied to a careful, responsible attitude as well as the additional hygiene measures businesses have introduced then there is no reason that customers can’t go back into towns and help us to kickstart Warwickshire’s recovery.”
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/covid19roadlayouts for more information.