Race to prepare Shropshire market towns for social distancing
Council bosses have been racing around Shropshire's market towns to prepare social distancing measures for the return of the town centre economy.
Specific plans should be announced next week and will involve road closures, lane closures, reduced parking spaces and speed limits being reduced to 20mph on some roads to make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to distance.
Civic leaders and highways experts have so far been to Shrewsbury, Whitchurch, Wem, Ellesmere, Bishop's Castle, Church Stretton, Bridgnorth and Oswestry to work out the best ways for measures to be set up.
Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council's highways and transport portfolio holder, said: "This is having to be done at speed when you consider how big the council area is.
"We've been speaking to parish councils and the BIDs (business improvement districts) where they exist and doing the visits around the market towns, finding out how we can help with social distancing. We were in Bridgnorth yesterday and it was very busy.
"We will need to close some streets off. We haven't decided everything yet and nothing is set in stone. There will probably be reduced parking on some streets, loading bays might be moved.
"There might be parking spaces for the disabled where there weren't before. Some roads may be made one-way or have the speed limit reduced to 20mph.
“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 the 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 to help with this work, to ensure we can move as quickly as possible.”