Temporary closure of Hailsham’s high street agreed
The temporary closure Hailsham’s high street to help visitors maintain social distancing has been agreed.
East Sussex County Council is to move ahead with a number of temporary walking and cycling schemes using coronavirus funding from the government.
On Monday (August 17), lead member for transport Claire Dowling gave the go ahead to explore seven walking and cycling schemes, which would be paid for by phase 1 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund – a £250m pot announced as part of the government’s Covid-19 recovery plans in May.
The seven proposals come from 15 possible schemes, which were put out for a short consultation process during lockdown.
In the Wealden district, the county council will move ahead with a scheme to limit vehicle access to Hailsham High Street and widen its footway.
There would be an exemption for some users.
Officers said: “Cyclists, buses, taxi and blue badge holders will be permitted along the High Street, as will vehicles which need to load and unload. “Dispersed parking can use off-street car parks as normal within the vicinity.”
It will also move ahead with a scheme to install additional signage pointing the way to the Cuckoo Trail.
The High Street scheme saw some concerns raised by Hailsham New Town councillor Gerad Fox. He said: “This is a very challenging time for small traders, who risk their entire capital in many cases and employ local people.
“Many of the businesses in Hailsham are just about breaking even. It is natural that any proposed changes to High Street access will tend to worry them [and] the outcomes are pretty much uncertain.
“The idea that footfall is low due to the lack of capacity for social distancing in Hailsham runs counter to local businesses’ subjective experience, because the high street is generally not full.”
Concerns from traders, Cllr Fox said, included fears of deterring existing trade and increased traffic congestion in other parts of the town centre.
Cllr Fox added that he would want the council to defer its decision on the scheme until Hailsham Town Council could again meet to discuss the proposals.
Cllr Dowling opted to move ahead with the proposals, but asked officers to take account of the town council’s views during the next stages.
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