Making our high streets safer

Tewkesbury Borough Council is preparing to make the borough’s high streets safer as non-essential retail stores prepare to reopen next week.

Following the government’s announcement that all non-essential retail stores can reopen on Monday 15 June 2020, the council has begun collaborating with Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and Gloucestershire Constabulary to ensure that three of the borough’s busiest high streets have measures in place to allow for social distancing.

The council, in partnership with the county’s highways team, has identified three high streets in Tewkesbury Borough where footfall is highest and pavement space is most limited: Tewkesbury town, Winchcombe and Bishop’s Cleeve. These high streets present the potential for significant difficulties for social distancing, so temporary measures will be put in place to support shoppers’ efforts to maintain a 2m distance from others. These measures include a mixture of widening walkways, introducing one way systems for pedestrians, and physically marking out 2m distances. There will also be volunteers on hand to signpost those who might need help navigating the new arrangements.

As part of the county council’s social distancing trial schemes, on-street parking bays along Tewkesbury High Street were reallocated to give pedestrians more space to stay apart. Using water-filled barriers, the county council is using the high street as a trial site for new government measures. Sharing the learning from the trial sites so far, the borough council will install signs and floor markings in Winchcombe and Bishops Cleeve without physical barriers, and there are no changes to on-street parking in these areas.

Once the temporary measures are in place, the council will work with business and community groups to gain a better understanding of how the measures are performing, and – after taking advice from the county’s highways team and the police – will look to adapt the arrangements where needed.

Councillor Rob Bird, leader of Tewkesbury Borough Council said: “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local economy has been devastating, and it’s so important that businesses are able to start trading safely again. Likewise, residents will want to start visiting their local high streets again to buy goods and services they have been without for weeks.

“The measures put in place are there as a guide, but we all have a social responsibility to follow them and keep 2m apart from others. This is part of a wider package of support we’re offering businesses all around the borough to help them keep employees and customers as safe as is practically possible. We will continue to work with businesses and communities to assess the measures put in place and provide the support and advice needed to get our local economy flourishing again.”

Councillor Nigel Moor, cabinet member for environment and planning, said, “We are pleased with how the Tewkesbury High Street trial is going. We have used the learning from here and our other sites at Bourton on the Water and Cheltenham’s Bath Road to pull together guidance which will help districts to reopen their high street spaces in a safe way. Where the county council can help quickly at a local level, providing signs and markings to keep residents safe, we will empower districts to make these changes.

“We have submitted our plans to government to enable access to the Emergency Travel Fund, and we are working through the priority submissions we have received from district councils for temporary “pop up” schemes. We hope to hear from the government soon so we can progress these as soon as possible.”

Tewkesbury Town Council