Jackie Hook

Liberal Democrat County Councillor Newton Abbot North, District Councillor Bushell Ward Learn more

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Queen Street – measures to help reopening of shops

by Jackie Hook on 19 June, 2020

Temporary measures to aid safety and social distancing for shoppers will soon be introduced in Queen Street. The main outcome of the measures will be to widen pavements by removing much of the car parking from the street. Through traffic from The Avenue will be discouraged by signing, with the aim of creating a safer space to allow for pedestrian social distancing. Loading bays, taxi rank, bus stop and disabled parking will be retained.

These measures fulfil a government expectation announced by Grant Shapps on May 9th supported by a fund for emergency active travel measures to aid our recovery from covid-19 . The government recognises this moment “as a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities”. The guidance is contained in the linked document “Safer Public Spaces” https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5ebbb57ae90e070831aeb0d3/Coronavirus__COVID-19__-_Safer_Public_Places.pdf

This current £250 million national pot of funding is the first tranche of a wider £2 billion national fund for cycling and walking.

Emergency measures should be either,

Walk and Cycle measure to asset in getting people to work

Town Centre – Facilities for Pedestrian Social Distancing

The level of change expected was neatly summed up by Grant Shapps as

“when the country does get back to work we need those people to stay on their bikes and be joined by many more. Otherwise, with public transport’s capacity severely restricted at this time, our trains and buses could become overcrowded and our roads gridlocked – holding up emergency services, critical workers and vital supplies. We know cars will continue to remain vital for many, but as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.”

I’m pleased to say that Devon has been successful in attracting £350k to Exeter, £350k to Newton Abbot  and Barnstaple/Bideford, with £40k reserved for Town/Parish Councils to claim.

DCC were inundated with suggestions from Councils and the public, to spend the funds.

My feeling is that we must grasp this unique opportunity to trial some ideas that will unlock the new “normal”. These are intended to be easy to implement actions which can be quickly removed if found to be unpopular or not to work.

 I hope we as a town can embrace this wonderful opportunity to trial the creation of a town that is cleaner and healthier, that more people wish to visit and linger in, and importantly spend money in.

As a further positive indicator that this is the right course of action, early comments on the Future High Street Fund scheme for Queen Street has revealed support from the public, and from cafes/eateries in Queen St. for an enhanced pedestrian environment and the lessening of the dominance of the car in the street. Economic analysis carried out for the Future High Street Fund scheme expects a cost benefit ratio of £1/£12. For every £1 spent on enhancing the street, £12 of public benefit, which includes increased footfall is predicted.

The following links provide more detail on the temporary proposals for Newton Abbot.

Some key aspects are that

•           Some parking is retained for blue badge holders.

•           Loading bays are retained so that businesses are not adversely impacted, especially those that can only load from the front

•           It is proposed to include a short section of widening outside the school to aid with drop off/pick up.

.            Evening pick up from takeaways will still be possible

Other temporary measures for Newton Abbot include,

·         Newton Abbot – three temporary pedestrian & cyclist road crossings at Exeter Road, Jetty Marsh Road and Ashburton Road.

·         Temporary cycle racks in Courtenay Street (already in place)

The government has also announced another fund to aid the reopening of the High Street. Teignbridge is allocated £120,000. Details of eligible expenditure in link below. Town Council’s have been asked to submit their suggestions to the District.

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