Mon, 22 Jun 2020
PEDESTRIANISING Thatcham Broadway and High Street to assist social distancing is not a feasible option, town councillors heard.
Northbrook Street and Market Place in Newbury have been temporarily pedestrianised to help achieve social distancing.
One resident asked Thatcham Town Council whether a similar arrangement could be made for The Broadway and High Street.
“I am aware that this would be difficult to do for a variety of reasons, but as I am sure you are aware, pavements in both of these locations are incredibly narrow and would make socially distancing very difficult,” the letter says.
“This maybe an issue for their ruling administration, but removing traffic from The Broadway, would provide the town with a public space which over time could become a greener space.
“Removing traffic could also be an important first step if the Liberal Democrats intend to pursue the redevelopment of the town centre.
“The removal of traffic would also significantly benefit parents with pushchairs, as well as residents with mobility and visual impairments.”
But following a meeting with West Berkshire Council officers, town councillors concluded that the scheme “wouldn’t work in Thatcham”.
Town council leader David Lister (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said: “We did propose a number of items including pedestrianisation of the High Street and a possible closure on market days.
“Following positive discussions, this closure and pedestrianisation would not be workable because of different access requirements for residents and shops and would also create too much complication of trying to close one lane on market day.
“What we did agree is where the pavement is particularly narrow, the officers would look to cordon off parking bays to give more space. I think that’s a good compromise that we agreed on.”
Mr Lister said these measures could include parking bays in High Street and in Crown Mead to provide more space for people queuing for the shops and pharmacy.
A one-way system has also been implemented in Crown Mead.
West Berkshire Council will also be replacing the staggered crossing at Crown Mead with a single crossing, as well as installing extra cycle parking facilities in The Broadway.
Ellen Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said: “Northbrook Street is already set up to be a pedestrian area. I don’t think there’s anything we can do like that in Thatcham.”
Her husband Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) felt that more information was required and that there had been little time to debate the measures.
Deputy mayor John Boyd (Lib Dem, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham) said: “It was felt generally that these measures would be taken with the benefit of the local community.
“Like everything that is temporary, you may not like it, but it will be taken back again.”
Mr Lister added: “We are still in the middle of a pandemic crisis.
“They are looking at implementing measures that keep our residents safe.
“Some decisions are happening more quickly than some members may like, but we are in extraordinary times.”