Changes to Highways for Social Distancing

Jun 4, 2020

In response to our local Green councillors email regarding changes, principally to Princess Victoria Street and the Mall, but also one way systems for certain footpaths, CHIS emailed Councillors O'Rouke and Thomas on July 2nd.

We made the following points:

a. The closure of the top end of Princess Victoria St would impede access to businesses, badly in need of support, without benefitting cafés as there would be insufficient room for more than a couple of properly distanced tables.

b. The elderly and disabled need to be able to park in this street in order to get essential food, medicines and gain access to the library.

c. A serious study of traffic flow in the Village needs to be made before any road closures are implemented, even temporary ones. It is feared that these proposals have not been properly researched and that they would not only cause inconvenience but threaten the very survival of Clifton Village as a commercial centre.

d. As to proposals for a one way system for pedestrians across Victoria Square and St Andrews Churchyard, most would consider that there is already adequate space for pedestrians to pass safely, especially if cyclists were excluded. The plan would lead to ugly signage and painted arrows. The fact is that many would simply ignore such an unenforceable scheme, just as at present the cycling ban is largely disregarded.

No one knows what the future holds regarding the spread of coronavirus but it is surely essential that at this time when things seem to be improving not to overreact and needlessly damage the atmosphere, amenity and commercial viability of Clifton.

On June 3rd Councillor O'Rouke replied saying that:

a. In Princess Victoria St bollards are already in place, on the advice of Highways, to allow social distancing on the pavements.

b. The measure will not help to kickstart businesses.

c. The normal layout does not give shoppers space to walk and queue.

d. A temporary road closure would be better. Highways are doing some traffic studies but "a full review of traffic would need to be done in the future with full consultation."

This would seem to mean that a temporary closure might be implemented without consultation, something CHIS would oppose.

Opinion appears to be divided as to whether there ever was an actual social distancing problem in this street but most agree that the bollards are unsightly. Certainly the majority of Clifton traders strongly oppose the road closure proposals and understandably deplore the current loss of parking spaces.

The Mayor seems intent on implementing road closures in a number of prominent city streets, some of them in Clifton. We hope that our ward councillors will heed the opinion of those they represent when Marvin Rees's plans come up for discussion and that, in the meanwhile, no rash 'temporary' moves will be made that might prejudice future decisions.

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