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Bridgnorth Cliff Railway supports High Street closure

By Rory Smith | Bridgnorth | News | Published:

The owner of England's oldest funicular railway based in Shropshire has backed controversial plans to close a town's high street.

Cliff railway chairman Malvern Tipping, right, with Eileen Tipping

Dr Malvern Tipping said Bridgnorth Cliff Railway supports Shropshire Council in its decision to close High Street every Saturday to allow for easier social distancing while the market takes place.

He said the move is a "positive" and "prudent" one that will encourage shoppers and visitors to the town.

This comes after Steve Robbins, chairman of the town's chamber of commerce, criticised the plan, saying the closure on the busiest day of trade will have a "devastating" affect on already struggling shop owners.

Mr Tipping, who plans to increase the railway's opening days from the weekend to everyday on or before August 1, said: "We fully support Shropshire Council’s move to close High Street on Saturdays.

"In the past the area has been packed with little social distancing, because shoppers have been confined to the pavement.

"A ban on vehicular traffic will enable people to socially distance by walking in the carriageway. This is the sensible and responsible approach to take.

"It will reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 and moreover it gives shoppers a great deal more confidence. The result of that will be greater visitor numbers and more custom for local businesses."

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While the cliff railway has temporary hours of operation, it is now running from 9am until 6pm and plans to open seven days a week on or before August 1.

The phased reopening is partly due to staffing issues arising out of the pandemic and the need to reduce contact between members of staff.

Mr Tipping added: "During the course of the coronavirus lockdown, we have been approached on a number of occasions by local business representatives asking us to resume the operation of the cliff railway to increase visitor numbers, and therefore customers, to High Street.

"Our response has been that we have been fully sympathetic to those calls, but that we have had to place the long-term sustainability of the railway first.

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“The decision has now been taken that the cliff railway will open seven days a week either on or before August 1 and will continue to run accordingly while there is a sufficient demand for the service.

"This means that we can again bring customers to High Street on a Saturday, which has always been our busiest day of the week, and throughout the rest of the week.

"Part of the reason we have shortened our working day is that the pandemic has created staffing issues. It is likely that we shall have to recruit temporary relief staff until a return to normality."

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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