At the Full Town Council meeting on 29 June 2020, Town Councillors made a decision, under a new scheme, to pass on to Wiltshire Council its support for the temporary widening of pavements in the High Street to make it a safer environment for residents and shoppers. Under new legislation announced last week which streamlines relevant licensing processes, this would also enable cafés, pubs and restaurants to serve customers outside. Bus stops, disabled parking spaces and the taxi rank will not be affected. Our Councillors also took a decision to use an annual parking allocation to offer some free parking to help compensate for the temporary removal of the 30 minutes free parking on the north and south sides of the High Street as well as looking at a future initiative to work with businesses to offer shoppers refunds for their first hours parking.
The reasoning behind this is twofold – to encourage people back to a High Street where they feel confident and safe and to kick start the local economy. The Town Council has been approached by some in the hospitality sector with fears about not being able to offer customers any service within their premises (in fact, some in this sector have already taken the difficult decision not to re-open in Marlborough at all). Others have expressed concerns about pinch points where queuing outside shops, banks and various businesses could not be properly organised especially where the pavement is very narrow.
The Re-opening of the High Street Safely Scheme is an initiative being offered to towns across the county and already being taken up in some (e.g. Malmesbury) and funded via the European Regional Development Fund. The Town Council’s agreement to pavement widening has been passed on to Wiltshire Council (the scheme administrators) where professional Highways teams will look at its technical viability before a decision is made by a WC Steering Group which is considering similar requests from other towns. Any measures agreed will not be permanent, will be monitored and can be changed if they are not working well.
The Town Council has, under the same scheme, asked that hand sanitizer stations are placed at intervals along the pavement and for signage indicating that it’s business as usual in our safe High Street.
Ahead of agreeing to support this, Councillors held two meetings with representatives from the High Street and also canvassed some businesses about the scheme. At one meeting, a WC officer dealing with Wiltshire’s economic recovery explained the opportunities and
restrictions offered by the scheme and confirmed that she will be working with Marlborough over the next couple of years to invigorate the local economy.
Our Town Mayor, Cllr Mark Cooper, said: “We mustn’t forget that whilst we welcome the lifting of restrictions, the government and medical experts are clear that the pandemic is still with us and will be for some time to come. The Town Council welcomes measures to keep its residents and visitors safe and amongst all of this, we are also trying to ensure that our businesses can find their feet again after months of being faced with uncertain futures.”
Ultimately, of course, the final decision on the scheme rests with Wiltshire Council.
For more information contact:
Mrs Shelley Parker, Town Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org
Marlborough Town Council, 5, High Street, Marlborough, SN8 1AA – Tel – 01672 512487 or 07931 996632
Email – email@example.com