Shoppers and businesses are being asked to have their say on temporary measures used in Haverhill to encourage people to back local traders while staying Covid safe.
Partners want to capture views while they are fresh in people’s minds to inform any relevant improvements for the town centre that may come forward in the future.
A local partnership of the Haverhill Town Council, West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council introduced a number of measures under the government’s emergency guidance during the pandemic. This was to enable people to shop and stay Covid safe.
Due to recent changes in government guidance and the law the temporary powers to close the High Street for extended hours have now come to an end, as have the temporary pavement licences issued to businesses. Therefore, as from the October 25 the High Street and associated roads will return to their pre–Covid state.
The temporary measures which had been put in place included:
Temporary road closure of the High Street and Queen Street, by the use of barriers between 10am and 4pm for seven days a week to stop access for all vehicles to make it easier for pedestrians to use;
Temporary one-way to lower section of Camps Road adjacent to Pea’s Market Hill 24 hours a day to stop drivers from entering the closed to traffic town centre;
Temporary suspension of on-street parking at certain times to give more space for pedestrians;
Better access for pedestrians and cyclists within the town centre to encourage people to walk and ride as well as use public transport;
Funding for town centre recovery activities including street entertainment and additional seating to support temporary licences for trading on the highways.
During the pandemic, the councils have worked with local businesses to enable them to temporarily use the highway as an additional space. This enabled people to eat and drink in safety and to help the viability of local businesses, especially where it was hard to socially distance.
Some businesses that have expressed an interest in continuing to trade on the highway, including pavement areas, have been issued revised licences to enable them to trade safely between 10am and 4pm.
A survey has been launched and partners are keen to understand the views of town centre users such as shoppers and local businesses on the temporary changes to the town centre, including a barrier enforcing the traffic rules. The views from the survey will be shared with all town centre partners. It can be found at Haverhill town centre temporary road closures (smartsurvey.co.uk) and will be live from October 20 to December 5.
Residents are reminded that from October 25 the pre-existing Traffic Regulations Order, which sets out how the highway can legally be used, will fall back into place.
This includes restricted access in the High Street between 10am and 4pm except for Blue Badge and permit holders. There will also be restricted access for all traffic in Queen Street between 10am and 4pm. Camps Road adjacent to Pea’s Market Hill will return to two-way traffic. Civil Parking Enforcement officers will be enforcing this as per the previous regime and the Police have been notified.
Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council lead for economic development, transport strategy and waste, said: “As our town centres continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic we want to ensure we give them the strongest possible foundations on which to build, and if short-term measures that were brought in during Covid actually appear to have long-term value then it makes sense that we should consider keeping them.
“The views of the public are important, they help us shape our decisions, so we want to hear what people in Haverhill think about whether any of these temporary measures should be taken forward.
“A strong and vibrant town centre is in the interests of everyone living in Haverhill. This survey is working towards that aim and I would urge everyone to take part and help us achieve it.”
Susan Glossop, portfolio holder for Economic Growth for West Suffolk Council, said: “We have been working with a range of partners including, Suffolk County Council and Haverhill Town Council to deliver a safe environment in the town centre for residents and visitors and also support the recovery of local businesses. Following positive local feedback partners want to look at whether the measures used could further help this recovery and the prosperity of local businesses and the town centre in general when future improvements to the high street and town centre come forward. That is why we would encourage people to have their say now while the impact of these changes are fresh in their memories.”
Mayor of Haverhill, Liz Smith, added: “Like our partners, we want people to have their say. We know there are valid arguments on both sides, but what type of town centre offers us the best chance to create a space that will serve our town? That is what we want people to tell us.”
Partners will continue to monitor the situation and are ready to implement any further requirements that the government may ask for to ensure the continued safety of the public.