Plans are being drawn up to ensure that Shropshire’s market towns are ready and able to welcome visitors once shops and other businesses start to re-open.
Shropshire Council is working with its partners to develop plans – in line with the latest Government guidance for walking, cycling, public transport and use of road space – that will encourage people to visit the towns, whilst enabling them to follow the social distancing regulations.
This will also enable Shropshire Council to support the economies of Shropshire’s market towns, and support and enable businesses to operate in a safe way that protects both their staff and customers, and other town centre visitors.
Ways to make the town centres more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly are under consideration, with signage, road marking, car parks, possible temporary closures of roads, and temporary 20 mph speed limits. The operation and cleaning of buses is also being considered.
Oswestry Town Centre
Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “With the possibility that some shops could start to reopen from June we want to ensure that people can visit and support our town centres and their traders, while following the social distancing rules.
“We’re now looking at everything that we can do to help achieve this. For example, can we give priority to pedestrians and cyclists, give them more room and enable them to move around our towns quickly and easily while social distancing? We’ll also be giving careful consideration to signage, road markings, footpaths, car parks and buses.
“We’re still receiving guidance from Government and the Department of Transport and we’re working through this at pace. Not all of the final details are with us yet with us but our planning and preparation is well underway and we have already tasked staff from different teams – and our contractor WSP – to help with this work, to ensure we can move as quickly as possible.”
Shropshire Council’s highways and transport, and economic growth, teams are initially working with Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID) and Oswestry BID and Shrewsbury and Oswestry Town Councils to develop plans for those two towns, before then rolling out plans to Shropshire’s other market towns during the next few weeks and months.
Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, said: “We are working closely with Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council on a package of measures to create a safe environment for the public to access and move around the town centre. We are exploring all options and opportunities to support businesses operating under social distancing, including providing additional outdoor space where possible.”
Adele Nightingale, Oswestry BID manager, said: “In accordance with government guidelines on hygiene and social distancing rules, we are working with Oswestry Town Council and Shropshire Council on a number of measures to assist our businesses and the general public in making Oswestry a safe place to shop and conduct business.”