More than £185,000 spent on social distancing measures in Shropshire towns

More than £185,000 has been spent on putting in social distancing in town centres across the county, a council has confirmed.

Shrewsbury's High Street which is one of several roads affected by social distancing measures
Shrewsbury's High Street which is one of several roads affected by social distancing measures

Shropshire Council said that the measures, which were put in on high streets following the end of the first lockdown, had been funded by £288,194 from the government.

However, a report which will be considered by the authority's Place Overview Committee next week, outlines that the council will need to find its own money to pay for the measures in future.

In Shrewsbury under the changes traffic was stopped from travelling up Wyle Cop and down High Street, while Bridgnorth, Ludlow, and Oswestry have also all seen significant alterations to main streets.

The measures have not been met with universal praise, as residents of Town Walls in Shrewsbury have expressed significant concern over the impact of traffic being diverted along the route to allow for Wyle Cop and High Street to be closed off.

The report from Steve Brown the council's head of transport & environment says: "The costs to date are circa £185,726 to date from an initial government award of £288,194.

"The current forecast is that this funding will expire by Christmas 2020, and then other council funds will need to be identified to support social distancing measures going forward."

It adds: "The withdrawal of key social distancing measures during the second lockdown (high street, Wyle Cop and Victoria Avenue) will have supported the financial position, as there is a significant cost in placing these measures on and off during the day, this work is undertaken by a traffic management company.

Scepticism

"However, ongoing social distancing costs will need to be met by the council."

The ongoing Covid crisis means some measures may be in place for significant time yet, but the report says that some changes have been seen by the public as 'positive'.

It states: "The response to Covid-19, has expedited issues and agendas, such as online shopping and our entire approach should be considered.

"Prior to Covid-19 the effective pedestrianisation of the high street had not been previously undertaken and perhaps was met with some scepticism. Now it perhaps (with valid concerns form some residents) is seen as a positive in supporting the towns."

The report will be discussed at the meeting of the Place Overview Committee on December 9.

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