Closed roads to reopen after public feedback

Published Friday 11 September 2020

Road changes, introduced to encourage shoppers back into town centres, are to be relaxed following feedback from the public.

Church Street (pictured) and Adam and Eve Street in Market Harborough are set to reopen to traffic, and on-street parking restrictions lifted, on or before Friday 18 September 2020, following a public survey, local observations and feedback from businesses.

Measures put in place in Church Street in Lutterworth to widen the pavement with barriers will also be removed.

The Council has said, however, that measures may have to be reintroduced if the local or national situation around Covid-19 dictates.

Church Street, Market HarboroughIn collaboration with retail groups, local businesses, and Leicestershire County Council, Harborough District Council introduced a number of road changes to facilitate social distancing as town centre shops and businesses reopened following the Government’s easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Last month, on-street parking was reopened in Market Harborough on Coventry Road and the High Street and in Kibworth Beauchamp.

With queuing still occurring into the road outside the Post Office and GI’s Barbers in Adam and Eve Street, a protected cordoned area will be created to allow safe queueing as traffic returns. 

Cllr Phil King (pictured), Leader of Harborough District Council, said: “Introducing the measures was the right thing to do at the time to provide shoppers with the confidence to come back to our town centres and to support safe social distancing and safe queuing. That increased confidence, plus evidence we have gathered, suggests the current best approach is to reopen the roads. That said; we will be monitoring the situation and may have to take necessary actions if measures are needed in the future to protect the public.”   

Cllr phil king conThe ‘High street helpers’ will continue to assist shoppers and public hand sanitiser points and street markings, showing people where to queue safely, will remain in place.

The Council said the introduction of face coverings in shops, customer numbers dropping from an initial peak, and progress towards ‘normality’, means less need for road closures. 

Observations carried out in recent weeks found that very few people are using the closed streets to walk on, preferring to stick to the pavements – perhaps due to habit – and that queuing seems to be managed well. Deliveries were also challenging for some businesses in closed streets.

Most businesses agreed that the road closures were appropriate in the three months immediately following lockdown, as a means of rebuilding public confidence and facilitating social distancing and safe queuing. However, businesses now report that queuing is no longer such an issue. Businesses also preferred on-street parking so customers could ‘pop-and-shop’.

One restaurant in Adam and Eve Street said its daytime business and footfall was up since the road closures, but recognised that it was potentially impacting on neighbouring businesses.

Cllr King added: “We would like to thank all those businesses, shoppers and residents who took the time to share their views as part of the consultation process; all views have helped the discussions to identify the best way forward.”