29th June 2020
Plans afoot for temporary traffic flow changes
At the Full Council meeting on Friday 26th June, members unanimously agreed an ‘in principle’ decision to fund changes in the town’s traffic flows, to assist with social distancing measures in support of public health and well-being, in response to COVID-19.
The measures, which will be subject to further development in the coming weeks, are likely to be implemented from mid-August, after a planned closure of Silver Street for building works is completed.
The temporary scheme will look to include widening of pavements throughout Silver Street, Market Street and on the Town Bridge, with these roads being reduced to single lane – creating a one-way system running down Silver Street and up Market Street. Meanwhile, temporary lights will be installed on the bridge, to allow alternating access.
Leader of the Council and Chair of Highways & Transport Committee, Cllr Dom Newton said:
“While these measures must be viewed as temporary in light of COVID-19, they are also an opportunity to move forward on what has historically been a very challenging issue. Given the absence of funds from Wiltshire Council or central government, the decision to fund it from the Town Council gives us a level of autonomy that we have not previously enjoyed.
This is both a short-term necessity and longer-term opportunity, validated by members’ unanimous backing of the resolution.”
The scheme will also see significant data generated – both to monitor its effectiveness in terms of air quality and congestion, as well as any impact on other routes. This information may then inform any more permanent highways plans in the future.
Cllr Sarah Gibson, who is also Chair of Wiltshire Council’s CATg (Community Area Transport Group) said:
“This has been a good example of collaborative working by the Town Council, Wiltshire Council and stakeholder groups and should help more businesses to open safely while the need for social distancing remains.
It is important for the immediate advantages of social distancing and should give us valuable information on air quality and traffic under these conditions. The measures will be temporary, but are an exciting step towards achieving the long term goal of a pedestrian friendly town centre.”
Councillors agreed that as an interim measure, whilst works on Silver Street take place, signage encouraging social distancing and alerting drivers to pedestrians needing to step off narrow pavements around the town should be devised and implemented by the Town Council Covid-19 communications team.
Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Environment & Planning Committee, Cllr Alex Kay said:
“Whilst this scheme will aim to tackle the immediate public health issue around social distancing, the installation of monitoring equipment and subsequent changes to the amount, and potential frequency, of traffic, will also give us a well needed opportunity to measure air quality in and around the town, with a view to informing improvements in the future.
The recent drop in pollution and carbon emissions from traffic during lockdown was greatly appreciated by many in the community, and is crucial to address if we are to tackle the Climate Emergency going forward.”
Drawings of the proposed scheme designed by Wiltshire Council officers can be viewed HERE, though may be subject to change prior to implementation.
Minutes from the meeting will be available later this week.
Photos Lydia Booth Photography