Pedestrianisation finally comes to Haverhill's High Street - but its not quite as it seems
Haverhill’s main shopping street is to be closed off to all traffic as part of measures being introduced to make the area safer and help reduce the spread of Covid-19 once retailers open their doors.
From Monday, many non-essential retailers will be permitted by the Government to reopen after weeks of closure because of the coronavirus lockdown.
Although not a permanent measure, the pedestrianisation of the High Street forms one part of the safety measures drawn up by West Suffolk Council, in consultation with the town council and local business groups.
An as yet unspecified physical barrier will be placed at the entrance to the High Street and be in place from 10am-4pm, in line with the existing Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) preventing most vehicles entering the street within those hours.
Unlike the existing TRO however, which allows access to deliveries and blue badge holders between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, nobody will be able to drive into the High Street within those times – although they will be able to before 10am and after 4pm.
John Mayhew, spokesperson for the Heart of Haverhill business group, said: “We welcome the opportunity to work closely with West Suffolk Council, as well as Haverhill Town Council, to take an active role in rejuvenating our town centre and helping local businesses get back on their feet.
“Some businesses will find the next few months extremely tough, but by speaking with one voice everyone stands a better chance of succeeding.
“While we have put our plans to launch a Business Improvement District campaign on hold due to the Covid-19 crisis, we look forward to kick-starting them at the right time as a BID organisation is exactly what Haverhill needs to help create an energy in our town centre.
“Our message to local people is to please support the town where you live and work.”
As part of the measures, Queen Street will, as usual, be shut to traffic from 10am to 4pm. Use of the loading bays on Camps Road, next to Market Square, will be suspended.
Traffic will also not be allowed to drive down Camps Road (from its junction with Mill Road) towards the High Street/Queen Street turns between 10am and 4pm – as per the existing TRO.
As part of the measures, segregated two-way pedestrian flows will also be created in Jubilee Walk and Crown Passage (between the Post Office and Boots) to maintain social distancing.
Businesses must also remove any outside furniture, A-boards or other items that restrict safe passage, unless they are being used for social distancing purposes.
All of the initial plans drawn up can be found HERE
The suggested initiatives will evolve over time or will need changing to reflect how effective they are being and how people are following the new measures.
Businesses must make sure they have the correct measures in place on their premises and manage queuing and the online resource has advice for business and links to the national guidance.
West Suffolk Council is also producing a pack for businesses to help with this and will include signage designs businesses can download as well as printed signs.
Cllr John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “We all want to see businesses re-open and people able to enjoy more freedoms but this must be done safely to avoid undoing the great work almost everyone has done to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
“We are leading on this with partners such as local BIDs (Business Improvement Districts), business representatives, town and parish councils, and looking at tailored solutions for individual towns and areas.
“The measures being suggested follow engagement with local groups, councils and organisations and are part of our wider support of the economic recovery of West Suffolk and our response to Covid-19 to protect our communities.
“But we all have a part to play in this. Safety is the main focus and keeping socially distanced is our first line of defence.
“It is the responsibility of businesses to make sure they have appropriate measures in place, but we must all do our bit in keeping two metres apart and following guidance to stop the spread of infection.
“National guidelines will undoubtedly change, and it is anticipated that the measures being taken will evolve to ensure safety and where we need to improve things.
“This will of course be kept under review. Stick with it and keep us all safe as well as supporting your local businesses.”
More by this authorSteve Barton
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