COVID-19 Social Distancing Traffic Scheme update

Current Social Distancing Scheme and approaches to long term traffic issues

Current Social Distancing Scheme and approaches to long term traffic issues

Many residents have been asking about the future of the temporary social distancing traffic scheme and plans for the future. Here are some of the key facts about the situation and the Town Council’s plans:

Current social distancing scheme 

  • The current social distancing traffic scheme involves wider pavements in the town centre, created by the introduction of a one-way road system. The scheme was requested by the Town Council in April 2020 and implemented by Wiltshire Council in August 2020.
  • The legal basis of the scheme is a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) put in place for 12 months to avoid danger to the public by enabling social distancing. The TTRO expires on 17th August.  A TTRO has a maximum possible duration of 18 months and any extension is subject to the reasons that triggered it still applying.
  • It is not possible simply to make the temporary system permanent (see below) although while the scheme is in place it has been possible to make observations and record data that should assist future planning.

Planning for the future

  • Wiltshire Council are responsible for highways matters, so ultimately the decision about the future or otherwise of the scheme or similar in future rests with them. Specifically, the decision rests with the Wiltshire Cabinet member for Transport, Councillor Mark McClelland.  He has announced (15th June 2021) that when social distancing ends, the rationale for the scheme will no longer exist but that Wiltshire Council will “examine the data, consult local stakeholders, and then decide on next steps”.  His full statement can be read at
  • Town and Wiltshire Cllrs Tim Trimble and Sarah Gibson have asked Cllr McClelland to visit the town and meet with them as soon as possible. Any future scheme should be guided by the aims and objectives outlined to Wiltshire Council by the Town Council.
  • Wiltshire Council would be responsible for funding any permanent scheme.
  • The consideration of a permanent one-way system is a completely different process to that for a temporary scheme and requires a permanent traffic regulation order.
  • A permanent one-way system, if decided upon, would, by law, require Wiltshire Council to consider a series of issues including pavement widening, underground work to move drains, access to cables, pipes and other underground equipment and services.
  • There is also a formal requirement for Wiltshire Council to undertake a consultation on any specific proposal.
  • Wiltshire Council officers have suggested informally that the process would usually take two years to consult and design, and a further year to build.

What is needed for a long-term traffic solution?

  • We plan a Town Council-led consultation in the Autumn of 2021 to consider all aspects of future traffic management, pedestrian safety, air quality and public transport. This will enable us to provide Wiltshire Council with evidence as regards the wishes of the town for the future.
  • The current social distancing scheme has made walking around the town centre easier and safer in some respects. It has also made driving through the town more convenient for many residents and improved traffic pressures on some roads such as Trowbridge Road. However, these benefits have come at a considerable cost for people living in the New Road/Springfield/Holt Road/Lower Woolley Street area who have experienced extremely high traffic volumes even through lockdown.
  • We want to find a solution that brings the greatest benefit and the least disadvantage for our residents and our community as a whole, bearing in mind that someone whose home is affected for many hours of the day suffers greater disadvantage than someone whose car journey is shortened by a few minutes a day.

At the most recent Full Town Council meeting, held on 6th July, Councillors discussed the Social Distancing Scheme further. To find out more, visit our recent news article HERE and scroll down to read previous articles relating to the scheme.

To find out about future meetings CLICK HERE and if you would like to submit a question, or speak at the start of a meeting, please contact the Town Clerk in advance via our Contact Form:

or by emailing