Pier Road has been closed to traffic under Covid 19 measures during summer 2020 and summer 2021. This report asks the Committee to consider undertaking consultation regarding future closures and, if agreed, whether these should be partial, full, permanent or seasonal.
The Business Development Manager presented this report reminding members that Pier Road had been closed to traffic for the past two summers using emergency powers relating to Covid-19. The closure had been generally welcomed by the public but had not been as popular with some of the local businesses in Pier Road.
Members had suggested that Pier Road again be closed for this summer season and in response the report outlined the reasons why officers felt that this was not a feasible proposal. The report was asking the committee to consider undertaking wider consultation during summer 2022 regarding future options for the road closure, and if agreed, whether these should be partial, full, permanent or seasonal.
A variety of questions were asked by members all stating that this was an extremely important report. Members felt that a real opportunity had been missed in terms of the pending 2022 summer season. Reference was made to when the first road closure had taken place in the summer of 2020 during the pandemic. Initially this had seen to be very much welcomed by businesses and residents and had been a real opportunity to test the closure out. The response had seen overwhelming public support. The businesses that had wished to make something from the closure had and this had been the case for the second closure. It was accepted that there were one or two business who did not like the change and preferred to continue with no closure siting that they liked the opportunity for cars to be able to park down the road allowing customers to pop in and out of shops and cafes, despite the double yellow lines prohibiting this. It had been felt that the closure had brought great advantages such as increased road safety and that it really had showcased the public investment in the riverside walkway and other attractions near the river. All of these positives would now be missed with no closure possible for 2022. Residents and visitors to the locality had come to expect it and would be visiting expecting it to be in place and would be very disappointed. Although what was now being proposed was welcome, it was felt to be too little too late missing the momentum of a whole season’s closure.
Members confirmed that they were very much in favour of a seasonal closure only and that this should be from Easter to September and were openminded about what happened outside of the summer season. It was agreed that the council, the town council and individual councillors should promote and encourage a positive uptake of the closure and so they welcomed the proposals for the consultation but did not accept including as an option ‘to do nothing’. The need to encourage a favourable uptake and to promote the advantages of a seasonal closure with those businesses that had not supported it in the past was vital and it was felt that more engaging dialogue should be undertaken using the Traders Partnership to positively sell the benefit that the closure had brought in previous years. It was hoped that this would encourage further support.
Looking ahead, and reflecting on the past, traffic signage and barriers needed to be improved using quality fitments. It was hoped that the drawings could be commissioned as quickly as possible to avoid any further delay.
The chair summarised the debate stating that it was hoped that all businesses, following the consultation and extended dialogue would respond positively to the consultation.
Following some further discussion, Councillor Walsh then proposed the recommendations which were then seconded by Councillor Edwards.
As a recorded vote had been requested, those voting for it were Councillors Mrs Cooper, Cooper, Dixon, Edwards, Northeast, Roberts, Seex, Staniforth, Stanley, Walsh and Yeates.
RESOLVED - That
(1) Drawings for the 3 options at 2.2 in this report be commissioned;
(2) Public consultation on these options as well as the option to ‘do nothing’ be consulted upon during summer 2022; and
(3) A report containing the details and outcome of the consultation be brought to this Committee later in the year for further decisions to be made.