Parish council says Covid-safe measures ‘bear little resemblance’ to plans
PUBLISHED: 05:30 17 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:37 18 June 2020
One idyllic Suffolk village discovered its medieval streets filled with traffic cones and barriers as shops reopened this week.
Rows of waist-high white barriers now line Lavenham’s High Street, with cones to prevent people parking and temporary street signs in place for new speed limits.
The decision to modify the street was made with input from parish, district and county councils, with all the equipment delivered on Monday, June 15, and in place by Tuesday morning. The intention was to make walkways wide enough to keep two metres apart and stop the road being blocked by parked cars.
The introduction of the barriers by Suffolk Highways took some in the village by surprise, with the measures being reported back to Suffolk Highways as road defects within hours of their arrival.
As of June 18, the barriers have been taken away but cones to prevent cars stopping outside some shops remain in place.
Lavenham Parish Council said the plans they agreed to “bore little resemblance” to what has arrived in the village.
Parish council vice-chair John O’Mahony said: “The narrow, and the sometimes non-existent pavements which are integral to a medieval village such as Lavenham present their own challenges.
“A whole range of barriers and signs were delivered into the village on Monday but were not put into position until today.
“It was immediately apparent that what had been agreed between the relevant parties bore little resemblance to what was being put in place.
“We immediately drew this to the attention of the district council, who in turn advised Suffolk Highways of the problem.
“We have received assurances that the regrettable mistakes will be rectified as soon as possible.”
Initial plans also included possible road queueing areas for those waiting to enter shops and vehicles being stopped from driving past the primary school in Barn Street during certain hours.
Despite the resistance to the measures, some residents saw the necessity of changes to make the village safe.
One anonymous villager said: “It’s clearly all been done for safety which I know everyone will appreciate the parish for thinking about and for taking action.
“But I think people are just a bit surprised and it seems quite extreme for our little historic village to be lined with white barriers, traffic cones and speed restrictions.”
June 18 Update: Suffolk Highways have now removed the barriers from the street, but will be keeping ‘no-waiting’ cones in place to prevent cars pulling up outside some shops.
In a joint statement from Suffolk County Council and Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council, they said: “We are working together to create safer places that will support businesses as they reopen in the district.
“Temporary emergency measures are being implemented that are under constant review and we will work with parish and town councils to refine them as required in local areas.
“The situation regarding the temporary emergency traffic management in High Street, Lavenham is one such location where measures have been installed and are now being adjusted to suit local conditions.
“As such the barriers are being removed, but we are leaving the ‘no waiting’ cones in place.
“Suffolk County Council has received and successfully implemented several requests for safer places, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to travel more freely, while adhering to Government’s social distancing guidelines.”
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