Cheshire East Council has today (12 June) issued a reminder to everyone about the importance of social distancing as it works with partners to get high streets ready for the government’s planned easing of lockdown restrictions on Monday 15 June.
Government restrictions are in place to control the spread of the virus, which include social distancing measures with people being asked to stay a minimum two metres apart. The government’s guidance is being continually reviewed and the council will adapt and make changes as and when this is amended.
Sixteen towns and larger villages across Cheshire East will see temporary measures installed in and around our high streets. These plans can be seen on the council’s website. These have been informed by positive dialogue and feedback the council has had from town and parish councils, which will continue over the coming weeks.
Where roads are closed, access will remain for residents to get to their homes, businesses for delivery of goods, buses and the emergency services.
Blue badge parking places have been retained, wherever possible, with pedestrians and cyclists being able to access roads that are closed. However, all road users are asked to be mindful of the need for social distancing and to share these spaces with care.
In addition, the council is to reintroduce parking charges, where these apply in the borough, from Monday15 June and a number of car parks will be closed and some parking bays suspended, as part of social-distancing measures.
Councillor Laura Crane, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for highways, said: “We would like to thank all the local ward members, town and parish councillors who have worked with us so positively to develop and amend the temporary measure plans for high streets, ahead of their implementation on Monday.
“These measures will be constantly reviewed. If something isn’t working, tell us and where possible we will amend it or remove it completely.
“We are also reintroducing parking charges on Monday, as this will help to ensure that high streets benefit from a steady flow of people throughout the day, as businesses reopen. The money raised from car parking is one of many income streams for the council.
“The council is facing unprecedented financial pressure as a result of the pandemic, and the decision to reintroduce these charges has been taken in that context.
“We must also act to encourage people to use active transport over their cars, such as walking and cycling, as this reduces congestion in our town centres. Despite speculation, we would like to assure people that the ‘free after 3pm’ scheme will remain in place on designated car parks and the full review of parking charges across the borough, although it is currently delayed by the pandemic, will be rolled out when circumstances allow us to do so.”
Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “We are making a number of changes and it is important that we explain to people what we are doing and the reasons for those changes, so they are able to plan ahead as necessary.
“The safety of the public is our top priority as government restrictions are eased and information is being made available on the council’s website and through media channels to enable residents and businesses to do this.
“We also ask that people think about the changes they may need to make in order to stay safe. This could include planning ahead for a bus journey, ensuring you have a face covering, which is a mandatory requirement on all public transport, adjusting your route through a town centre or ensuring you have contactless payment methods for making payments for car parking and for shopping.
“We are committed to supporting businesses as restrictions are lifted. We will be providing additional information and guidance on our website over the coming days to help everyone feel safe when shops open their doors.
“The council plans surrounding the high street are part of a phased approach, with ongoing conversations with town and parish councils and businesses. Furthermore, the council will be commencing its consultation of proposals to review car parking right across the borough, when it is safe to do so”.