The temporary pedestrianisation of Burnham High Street started on Thursday, June 18th in a bid to help shoppers socially distance and keep safe.
The Burnham-on-Sea Town Centre pedestrianisation map shows the locations of the road closure and one-way systems that are in force to help shoppers.
Road closures apply during trading hours of 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays. One-way road systems will apply 24 hours a day.
In one late change to the map, it was confirmed that South Street will become a one way route and there will be access only from Adam Street for these 2 roads on a one-way all the way up to the Esplanade. Cottage Row will exit via South Street.
Letters explaining how the temporary pedestrianisation work have been distributed by the Town Council to residents and business owners in the town centre.
In the letter, the Town Council Clerk says: “The Town Mayor has asked me to explain some of the rapid and difficult decisions this Council has had to make over recent weeks in relation to Coronavirus.”
“Coronavirus has taken its toll on our communities and on our economy. It has shown the good nature of our communities as they work hard to support each other through this crisis, but it has also further emphasised the vulnerable position of our high streets.”
“The Government very recently set out its timeline for the reopening of retail businesses, announcing that non-essential shops can re-open from Monday 15th June provided they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines to ensure that customers and staff are protected from Coronavirus.”
“The Government has advised local authorities to make appropriate changes to local roads to help with social distancing for pedestrians.”
“Burnham-On-Sea town centre is a priority area for the Town Council due to the high footfall on narrow paths, especially during the summer tourist season. Ensuring the safety of customers returning to the Town Centre is important to restarting the local economy.”
“However, even with appropriate signage, queues outside shops will conflict with passing pedestrians, bringing them into close contact with each other or causing them to step into the road to maintain safe distance.”
“The Town Council initiated talks with the principal authorities (Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council) and the Chamber of Trade, to consider the options for increased Town Centre safety, including configuration of roads and pavements, signage, markings, and cleaning.”
“On 27th May, the Town Council held a meeting to discuss street safety, to which Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council and the Chambers of Trade for both Burnham and Highbridge were invited. Subsequently a media release was issued to seek comments from those affected by possible changes to the Town Centre, including temporary pedestrianisation of the High Street. The Council appreciates that not everyone checks online resources, but whilst shops were closed, hand delivery of letters to those premises at that time would have had less reach.”
“There have been concerns raised that the loss of parking outside of shops will negatively impact businesses, that road closures will complicate deliveries, as well as the need to take into account those less mobile.”
“Although these concerns are valid, on balance, it was agreed by the Town Council that doing nothing was not an option, and that other possibilities, such as a pavement one-way system, would not create the space required to allow pedestrians to appropriately socially distance from one another. Therefore, the Town Council agreed to submit a proposal to Somerset County Council, the Highways Authority, that it temporarily closes the High Street to vehicles, and makes other town centre roads one-way, so pavements can be widened.”
“These measures are being taken to enable people to maintain social distancing whilst we are still at risk of Coronavirus, and to encourage them to safely use the town centre businesses to restart the local economy.”
“The Highways Authority has subsequently put in place a temporary traffic order that will take effect on Thursday 18th June. Road closures will apply between trading hours: 0900hrs to 1730hrs Monday to Saturday and 1000hrs to 1600hrs Sunday. One-way road systems will apply 24/7 and for as long as temporary traffic order is in place.”
“If you park your vehicle on any of the new one-way streets overnight from Wednesday 17th June, please park your car facing the way of the directional arrow on the map and ensure its removed by the usual time of 9am.”
“It was hoped that the road closures could apply during a shorter daily period, but the Highways authority has stated that pedestrian safety requires closure either 24/7 or during trading hours as a minimum. These measures are temporary.”
“We will be listening to government advice as lockdown measures are eased and will regularly monitor and review the road layout, making suggestions to the Highways Authority based on feedback we receive from residents and businesses.”
“It remains that, if the pedestrianisation is shown to not achieve its primary purpose of enabling safe social distancing, or if it creates greater problems, then it can be adapted, changed or removed at short notice. You can find the temporary traffic order closing High Street and applying one-way systems to other roads in the town centre on the Town Council website.”
Street Marshals will be on hand to help
The Town Council, along with the principal councils and the Burnham Chamber of Trade, are committed to providing as safe a shopping environment as possible. We know that more people are now shopping online, but by helping our residents and visitors feel safe when visiting the town centre, we will help them feel confident they can support the high street by shopping locally.
The County Council will continue to monitor the road closures and be on-call 24/7 to address any problems. The Town Council will appoint clearly visible Street Marshals who will help the temporary pedestrianisation to operate as smoothly as possible. They will guide the few vehicles that require access to closed areas and help businesses, residents, emergency services and delivery drivers with access requirements. The Marshals will positively support and reassure everyone using our town centre, with the aim of maintaining a safe and friendly shopping experience.
What else is being done to help with safety and social distancing measures?
Instructional signage and pavement markings are being applied in the town and High Street by Sedgemoor District Council.
The Government has been clear that before retailers can reopen, safety measures must first be in place.
They should display a notice visibly in their shop window to show their employees, customers and other visitors that they have followed the guidance and are COVID Secure.
Free-standing hand sanitiser units will be placed at intervals along the High Street for public use between the hours 09:00hrs and 17:30hrs
I have a Blue Badge for disabled parking, can I still have access?
The council says: “We are working with the Highways Authority to establish whether disabled drivers can have access to the pedestrianised High Street at designated times in the day. We will publicise the position once we receive it.”
“The same number of disabled parking bays will be retained, but some will be relocated a few metres to create space for social distancing.”
Will my deliveries or emergency services access be affected?
Under the new temporary arrangements, emergency vehicles and delivery lorries will still have access into the High Street and will be guided to do so safely by the Street Marshals.
Who do I contact if I need further information?
If you require any information or would like to give feedback on the street safety measures, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org and mark your email for the attention of Lorna Williams, Deputy Clerk, who will do her best to help or put you in contact with someone who can.