Stourbridge High Street could close to traffic to make social distancing easier for pedestrians
Stourbridge's High Street could be closed to traffic as part of plans to allow social distancing to be maintained as shops reopen later this month.
Dudley Council is considering plans to close Stourbridge's High Street during the day due to its narrow paths.
Elsewhere in the borough, the authority is looking at widening footpaths in busy pedestrian areas.
Council bosses are working on a raft of measures to guide visitors in the borough's town centres and to ensure social distancing can be followed – after the Government announced non-essential retail stores could reopen from June 15, as steps to ease the coronavirus lockdown continue.
They will look at places with narrow footpaths and busy pedestrian areas as a priority. Measures could include widening footpaths by using part of the road in areas where there is high footfall. Signs, floor markets and one-way pedestrian access are also planned in some areas.
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To allow this to take place, some car parking bays could be temporarily suspended in town centres, so they can be used to widen footpaths.
The council is looking at the measures in line with a revised seven-day legal process introduced by Government, which allows councils to introduce the temporary measures, which includes installing barriers and informing pedestrian flow in each of the town centres.
Car parking charges also currently remain suspended.
Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley Council's cabinet member for environmental, highways and street services, said: "We need to do everything we can to support our town centres as we ease our way out of lockdown and help the recovery process.
"And while we welcome this progress, our priority must be the safety and wellbeing of people visiting and working in our town centres. It is important we get the balance right.
"We all need to take responsibility to follow social distancing guidelines and we hope that by putting measures in place, we will make it as easy and safe as possible for people to return and support their local high streets.
"We will continue to review the measures."
Counillor Shakespeare added: "As with any open space, we would urge people not to congregate and always be respectful of others.
"We will be communicating with retail premises in the town centres so they are fully aware of the action we are taking as they prepare to reopen."
Stourbridge Labour campaigner Cat Eccles has also called for Stourbridge High Street to be temporarily pedestrianised for public safety. She said a number of residents had raised concerns with her about the inability to social distance.
"The post office is extremely busy with vulnerable people given little or no choice but to brush shoulders with people queuing to get back out onto the high street," she said.
“We've been told shops and services should only reopen when it is safe to do so, yet the means of accessing the shops themselves is not safe at all.
“I urge you to consider a temporary closure of Stourbridge High Street other than to frontages and the disabled. This could be reviewed on a regular basis until such time it is considered safe to reopen.”
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