Cheshire East Council is set to introduce a range of measures to protect people and support local businesses ready for the government’s high street lockdown restrictions being lifted.
The temporary measures will be in place by 15 June and have been informed by local ward members and town and parish councils.
The measures will be under constant review, once implemented, and may be further tailored to meet local circumstances. They are in response to the government’s approach to reopen the high streets, as part of the Covid-19 recovery phase.
Sixteen towns and larger villages across Cheshire East will see temporary measures installed in and around our high streets, including:
● Social distancing awareness signs at bus and rail stations and at bus stops;
● Signs and pavement markings, to raise awareness of the need to social distance;
● Localised temporary road closures in town centres, where there is expected to be high footfall and extra space is needed for pedestrians and socially distanced queuing at shops;
● Increased pedestrian or cycle access in some town centres, through adjustments to traffic restrictions;
● Temporary closure of a small number of town centre car parks, where access to these compromises the space available for social distancing; and
● Temporary suspension of some parking spaces and laybys, where these can provide extra space for widening footpaths to help pedestrians respect social distancing rules.
While the council cannot guarantee that the public adheres to guidance on social distancing, it is keen to help both residents and business communities come out of lockdown safely, ensuring that public health is protected.
Councillor Laura Crane, Cheshire East cabinet member for highways, said: “As we begin to move beyond lockdown, we must consider how best to open up our high streets. Our priority here is to protect people and our local businesses.
“Alongside any measures, we will be supporting businesses with additional information and guidance, while encouraging high street users to adhere to the government’s social distancing restrictions
“The government is providing funding to local authorities and has issued guidance on how we can help people maintain safe social distancing in busy public areas, which we are following.
“Some of our measures support walking and cycling in our town centres – which many people have enjoyed much more of during the lockdown – and this also is good for our environment and people’s health and wellbeing. Further temporary and experimental measures are being considered to support walking and cycling and will be implemented once we have put in the arrangements for our high streets.
“Each of the 16 high streets identified in Cheshire East has been considered individually and measures tailored to local circumstances. Local ward members and town and parish councils have been asked for input into the plans and, where this has been received, we have taken close account of these suggestions.
“While these temporary arrangements may disrupt the travel patterns of some residents and visitors, they are necessary to protect everyone, especially those who will be using the shops when the government allows them to open – which at this point is intended to be 15 June.
“We are being careful to implement the government’s measures alongside avoiding unnecessary disruption. The works completed by 15 June are an important first step and these measures will be closely monitored and adjusted as necessary.”
Essential access for servicing businesses and residential properties will be maintained throughout the closures.
The council will continue to work on additional measures to support active travel during the recovery stages after lockdown. In the next stage, it will seek to deliver measures outside of town centres, and to improve the network for pedestrians and cyclists.