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Gone at last! High Street barriers dubbed as ‘ugly’ finally removed

PUBLISHED: 19:03 27 August 2020

The social distancing barriers in Hadleigh High Street have finally been removed after weeks of dispute between locals and the town council. Picture: NEIL BEVIS

The social distancing barriers in Hadleigh High Street have finally been removed after weeks of dispute between locals and the town council. Picture: NEIL BEVIS

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Controversial barriers designed to improve social distancing in Hadleigh High Street have finally been taken down after weeks of bitter dispute.

Vans from Suffolk Highways gathered to remove the social distancing barriers in Hadleigh High Street. Picture: NEIL BEVISVans from Suffolk Highways gathered to remove the social distancing barriers in Hadleigh High Street. Picture: NEIL BEVIS

The orange barriers, which were dubbed as “ugly”, were erected on July 28to create a new one-way system as part of Suffolk’s Safer Spaces scheme.

However, Hadleigh Town Council faced widespread criticism from locals, who claimed the scheme was affecting trade and disrupting the high street.

Meeting virtually on Thursday, August 20, the town council voted to have Suffolk Highways remove the barriers immediately.

Vans turned up at 11am on Thursday to begin the process.

Neil Bevis, Hadleigh business owner and co-founder of the foodbank, has led a group for the removal of the barriers and was delighted to see them go. Picture: NEIL BEVISNeil Bevis, Hadleigh business owner and co-founder of the foodbank, has led a group for the removal of the barriers and was delighted to see them go. Picture: NEIL BEVIS

Neil Bevis, local business owner and co-founder of the Hadleigh Foodbank, created a group for those who opposed the barriers and campaigned for their removal over the last month.

He was delighted to see the barriers had come down and said: “I was very happy to see the barriers come down today and all the shop owners and staff I have spoken to so far are ecstatic.

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“I went into three shops on the high street this afternoon and they said their trade was almost back to normal within just half a day of the barriers being down.

“Looking around, it already felt the street had become busier with more people out and about.”

The barriers had caused issues with trade, as the allocated delivery bays were often taken up - meaning shops failed to have goods delivered.

Mr Bevis is intending to form a new discussion group after requests from residents, where it is hoped they can form ideas of how to improve the town and put them to the council.

Much of the frustration felt by the town council was due to the fact they had voted for the barriers in May, shortly after the height of the pandemic.

However, due to essential works in Magdalen Road, this meant they were not erected until late July – during which time the risk of coronavirus had decreased.

Councillors maintained at the meeting that had they known this, there would have been time to consult businesses and residents - which would have potentially stopped the scheme from happening in the first place.

The council is now looking to find a more permanent solution for the High Street and is working with Babergh District Council on its Hadleigh Vision project.

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


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