Like other towns and villages, Marlborough is waking up after a long lockdown and its Town Council continues to work towards keeping its residents and visitors safe as well trying to help its shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants get back on their feet. The decision taken at our last Full Council meeting to support the national initiative, Re-opening High Streets Safely, was taken after consulting with local businesses.
The scheme, which is administered by Wiltshire Council, uses bollards to extend pavement space and is being put in place in town centres up and down the country. It is temporary, can only be in place for a maximum of 12 months and can easily be altered, extended or removed altogether well before then.
Based on the Town Council’s support, Wiltshire Council’s Highways Officers have drawn up a viable design which widens the narrowest areas making it much easier to socially distance as well as enabling some in the hospitality sector to have chairs and tables out on the pavement. Some free parking on the north and south sides of the street will remain and the Town Council will be providing some free, though limited, spaces to compensate for those that are being temporarily removed. Wiltshire Council is responsible for our parking charges and whilst the Town Council did enquire about paying for one hours free parking across the town, this was, at well over £330,000, totally unaffordable for a small local council.
We fully support our businesses and appreciate that the convenience of free parking for quick visits may be compromised for a few months, but COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon and these new measures will help protect our residents and visitors making them feel safe and confident to be in our fabulous High Street with all it has to offer.
It was good hear the various views and feedback on this issue and debate usually helps to bring about the right decision. We welcome comments from our local communities and would like more people to come along to our meetings including those being held via videoconference. If you would like to join us, just contact our Town Clerk for information about how to do this.
In the meantime, remember to buy local – I certainly will.
Councillor Mark Cooper
Mayor of Marlborough