Some residents and businesses in Shrewsbury are not happy with Wyle Cop uphill and High Street being closed from 11am to 4pm due to more traffic now rumbling past homes on Town Walls and less footfall for shops.
The change has been made to help shoppers stay socially distanced in the town centre. During the summer, the measures were in operation from 11am to 6pm. A survey of 1,400 people by Shrewsbury Recovery Taskforce showed a 79 per cent positive reaction to less traffic in the middle of town.
Town Walls residents carried out traffic monitoring during the summer and recorded more than 600 vehicles an hour several times.
Andrew Bannerman, a Town Walls resident and former councillor, said: "The extra danger and pollution will threaten the safety and health of the children of St Winefride’s School, the High School and the students of Shrewsbury College, all of whom use this route as a daily pedestrian thoroughfare.
"Residents and visitors will also suffer and the historic buildings which line the route will suffer from the pollution, vibration and backwash in bad weather – as will the medieval Town Walls themselves.
"Social distancing will frequently be impossible, as it will be too dangerous to step off the narrow pavements into the carriageway.
"The Town Walls route cannot safely bear this amount of extra traffic. We should be looking for ways to reduce the current amount of traffic in the town centre as a whole, not simply transferring it from one street to another."
James Tanner, of Tanner's Wines in Wyle Cop, said the closure has been unpopular with customers, and that the cones make it look as though the town is closed for business.
"A survey with 1,400 responses is not large in the scheme of things and we do not know where it was taken or what questions were asked," he said.
"Most of us would agree that reducing cross town traffic would be good, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be an open and honest debate about how it could be achieved.
"Many of us at the moment are pre-occupied with coping with the pandemic and adapting our businesses to leaving the EU. I don’t think that this should be used as a smokescreen for jumping our precious town into a new road layout."
The taskforce said it has undertaken significant research to investigate longer-term ways of reducing traffic without causing adverse impact to the Town Walls area.
Councillor Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, said: “The last few months have enabled us to gather vital information and feedback about how closing High Street and Wyle Cop to incoming vehicles has impacted on the town centre.
“The work has involved conversations with residents and businesses, and Shropshire Council as Highways Authority will continue to work closely with partners to consider next steps.
“Making Shrewsbury easier to access and more enjoyable to move around is one of the biggest opportunities as we continue our recovery.”