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Is it right for the barriers to go? Hadleigh still split over decision

PUBLISHED: 12:19 22 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:56 23 August 2020

A Hadleigh Town Council meeting on Thursday voted to remove the barriers as soon as possible, but the town still appears to be divided over the issue. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A Hadleigh Town Council meeting on Thursday voted to remove the barriers as soon as possible, but the town still appears to be divided over the issue. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

People in Hadleigh remain split over what is right for their High Street after the decision was made to remove the social distancing barriers which had drawn so much criticism.

The Safer Spaces barriers were put up in Hadleigh High Street to enforce social distancing, however they have been heavily criticised. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Safer Spaces barriers were put up in Hadleigh High Street to enforce social distancing, however they have been heavily criticised. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Hadleigh Town Council voted to have the ‘Safer Spaces’ barriers removed at a meeting on Thursday, August 20, deciding the confidence of the business community should be prioritised over social distancing due to the low number of Covid cases in the area.

Some people are unhappy to see the barriers go as they fear for the safety of older residents – while others believe it is a step towards reinvigorating trade following lockdown.

Helen Allan, town council chair and mayor, said: “Unfortunately, the strength of views around this Safer Spaces matter – an emergency response with no procedures in place – has brought about many frustrations, and last night was the outpouring of those frustrations.

“However the councillors voted to remove the barriers to help restore confidence in the town centre. Whatever it had decided, there would have been disappointed groups, but it was always a trial, and it proved to be unsuccessful.”

In the aftermath of the council meeting two councillors quit, Steve Allman and deputy mayor Caroline Cammack.

Mike Ager, owner of the King’s Head pub in High Street, said the barriers did not have any detrimental effect on his business.

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“I had a lot of people coming in recently who had only just been starting to go out again and those measures were helping them to stay safe,” he said.

“The council had the opportunity to put in the planters last night, but they forewent that opportunity to make all the problems go away for now.

“To do away with social distancing when a second spike of Covid is expected is just a disgraceful situation.”

Neil Bevis, a local businessman, voiced the concerns of High Street businesses via social media and is the co-founder of the Hadleigh Foodbank.

He said: “For the majority of businesses the result last night was what we wanted.

“I and many others are not averse to change as some may think, but the businesses and the public have to have their say on it and it is right that they do – I think we all felt that right was taken away.

“The majority of businesses can go back to trade now and looking forward to the future, collectively Hadleigh should come together to do the best for the high street.”

The town council has expressed wishes to continue to look at the future of the High Street with a more permanent solution, and are already working with Babergh District Council on its Hadleigh Vision project.


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