Town centre parking back in Clitheroe as council makes 'temporary' pedestrianisation U-Turn

Shoppers and residents will soon be able to once again park in areas of the town pedestrianised last month after a U-turn by the council due to the face mask ruling.

Following the Government’s announcement that the wearing of face coverings is now mandatory in shops, measures aimed at reopening Ribble Valley’s high streets safely have been suspended, but may return later in the year.

The move has been welcomed by local business owners.

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Ribble Valley Borough Council undertook a number of temporary measures in Clitheroe and Longridge to promote safe shopping as part of its #LoveRibbleValley campaign.

RVBC leader, Stephen Atkinson, encouraging people to shop locally

The campaign saw public safety signage and bollard sleeves installed in the centres of Clitheroe, Longridge and Whalley, and "reverse graffiti" on pavements reminding people to "keep their distance" and "be kind and respect others".

Castle Street was closed between Moor Lane and King Lane from 10am to 5pm every day and a partial one-way system for traffic established in Berry Lane between the junctions of Calder Avenue and Derby Street.

Up to two hours free parking was also made available at the council’s short-stay town centre car parks.

And a survey asking people’s views on the measures and the mandatory wearing of face masks attracted 1,200 responses.

The survey results will be published in due course, but it is evident that shoppers are still concerned about the pandemic, with the largest percentage of responders citing this as a reason why they had not returned to the high street and a further 39 per cent saying they now shopped online.

Ribble Valley Borough Council leader, Stephen Atkinson, said: “While we have seen an increase in people visiting the high street, traders have told us this is not translating into retail spend.

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“While nearly half of respondents said the pedestrianisation of Castle Street had encouraged them to return to the high street, the impact of mandatory face coverings is unknown.

“The measures we introduced were in accordance with Government guidance on creating a safe shopping environment, but we are putting them on hold for the time being, while the impact of face coverings on creating a safe shopping environment can be properly understood.

“We will continue to review the situation and if necessary the measures will be reinstated to create a safe shopping environment.”

The news has been welcomed by local traders. A spokesman for Cowman's Famous Sausage Shop in Castle Street said: "Pedestrianisation of the town centre can only work on a Saturday when it's busy and if the weather is nice. If it's raining, the high street is a like a ghost town.

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"People like to quickly park and nip in and out of shops, but if it's raining and there is no parking outside the shops, they would rather stay at home and shop online.

"If the town centre was to close to traffic again, then the council will have to arrange some entertainment or attractions in order to entice customers who can spend a bit more time on the high street. However, I fear in winter this will be the death knell for the town."

Face coverings are now mandatory on public transport, in shops, supermarkets, banks, building societies and post offices. You are also expected to wear a face covering in any enclosed public space, where social distancing is difficult and you might come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Face coverings are not mandatory for anyone under the age of 11, or with disabilities and certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments, that make it difficult for them to wear one.

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The results of the #LoveRibbleValley survey will be published in due course at ribblevalley.gov.uk.2