Across the Country Town Centres are re-opening from Monday 15th June and Councils are getting together to put in place measures to reassure shoppers and traders and to enable social distancing. The key measure across Somerset is a reduction of pedestrian-car conflict with temporary pedestrianisation schemes in place to allow for wider pathways and structured queueing. In Bridgwater a series of road closures and one way schemes are being introduced for Westover and Eastover. These will be 24 hours 7 days a week. Bridgwater Town Council’s Transport Forum has engaged with District and County officers in an Active Travel Cell and has been instrumental with these proposals.
In Westover, the High street will be closed with traffic diverted from St Mary street (outside Wetherspoons into Little St Mary Street and on through Lamb Lane) and busses now stopping at Mount Street behind Angel Place.
The Councils have also been working with shop-keepers, traders and larger national chain stores to prepare for the re-opening of High Streets and retail centres. Officers from Sedgemoor’s Environmental Health, Economic Development, Property Services, Clean Surroundings and Planning Teams are looking at ways to help customers visit shopping centres with confidence and to help shop owners re-start their businesses safely. This will include a range of measures from temporary signage and pavement markings to regular deep cleaning and sanitiser stations. Pavements will be given a power clean to make sure that the town centres are clean and welcoming to shoppers.
In Eastover the main road will be one way (towards the bridge) from after the Church road/ Aldi car park junctions. The bridge will remain open allowing traffic to continue into Binford place but vehicles will now be able to turn left in Salmon Parade or right into East Quay, both of which will be one way.
Both of these plans will allow for wider shopping streets with the possible return of the market around Cornhill and High Street in Westover and result in wider pavements along Eastover.
A further marker put down by Eastover councillors will allow focus on a long term solution for the dangerous crossing on the East Quay/ Eastover junction.
Pedestrianisations are also taking place in Taunton (East street) Burnham-On-Sea (High street) Yeovil (High street and Middle street) (Chard (Holyrood street) and Glastonbury (High st, Magdalene street and Benedict st).
Town Council Leader Brian Smedley said “The Government has decided that town centres can open and so it’s our job to make sure that happens in a way that everybody is kept as safe as possible. These are temporary measures which will help free up space in our main shopping streets. The current Government advice is to adhere to social distancing by keeping 2m apart – although typically Boris Johnson has just now called for a review of this distance. If they change it maybe he’d like to come and change all the road markings and signs councils have just put in….. Government is also saying that people should be wearing a face covering in shops and other enclosed public spaces. Also from Monday, you must wear a face covering on public transport. And…at the same time, the Government has also advised the public to avoid using public transport where possible and instead opt for walking and cycling instead. Whatever comes out of this we will be campaigning for a greener and more spacious town centre in the future, re-look at best travel routes which seperate people from vehicles and of course welcome the vast increase in people choosing to use bikes or their feet.”
Current Government advice is that if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, and/or high temperature, and/or loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste – anosmia), you and your household must isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID 19.
The changes (in pictures)