High Street Changes Q and A
There have been a lot of changes made in Malmesbury High Street and surrounding areas in the last few days so we can keep shopping and visiting Malmesbury safe and welcoming while we have to follow social distancing. Here are answers to the most frequent questions Malmesbury Town Team and Malmesbury Town Council have received.
Malmesbury High Street Q and A Updates
Malmesbury Town Council
2nd July 2020
Q. Nowhere else has made these changes!
Towns in similar situations who are committed to the safety of residents and visitors have or are making similar changes. In Wiltshire this includes Bradford on Avon, Devises, and Marlborough. In Gloucestershire sites are being trialled in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Bourton before further roll out around the county. A google search ‘social distancing in towns’ or similar will show dozens of other examples across the country.
It is important to compare like with like. The changes in Malmesbury are in an area where we have lots of small independent shops and hospitality businesses and very narrow pavements. Many of these businesses have to limit the number of people inside to operate safely so they have told us they need queue points outside. There is just not enough room on the pavements to allow people to queue and for people to pass and maintain 1m plus distancing
Q. These changes are simply not needed!
We understand the frustration of some residents but any criticism that does not address this fundamental point is missing why the changes have been made. We are working ourselves through a public health emergency.
Q. The one-way elements are pointless!
The one-way elements have been put in place with the opening of cafes, pubs and restaurants in mind as well as the extra traffic created by the additional shops that opened on 15th June.Parking in the
Q. Cross Hayes car park should be free.
Of course everyone would like the parking in Cross Hayes to be free but charging decisions are made by Wiltshire Council. Malmesbury Town Council has requested that parking in Cross Hayes is free to support the High Street as it starts to reopen, but this approach has been rejected by Wiltshire Council. We will continue to press this case and residents are welcome to express their views to Wiltshire Council as well.
Q: The new double yellow lines in the Upper High Street look permanent – will they be removed?
The yellow lines are required to give legal effect to the temporary no parking restrictions on the High Street. Like all the COVID 19 changes they are temporary. They will be removed when the social distancing restrictions are no longer required.
Q: Do we have to have the red COVID 19 signs; they look horrible and make us look like we are infected!
The red COVID 19 social distancing signs have been mandated by the government and installed by Wiltshire Council highways department as part of the changes to road and pavement layout. They aren’t signs we would have chosen. When things have settled we will have a discussion with Wiltshire Council highways department to see if we can reduce the number of red signs.
Q. it would have been better if you had consulted the retailers before making the changes
Malmesbury Town Team and Malmesbury Town Council are working closely together and have been holding fortnightly meetings with local retailers and businesses since the COVID 19 emergency struck. We have consulted with retailers, other businesses and community groups before making these changes. We have also worked closely with Wiltshire Council and the guidance provided for historical towns by Heritage England. We are continuing a close dialogue with retailers and businesses as we go forward.
Q. The changes will kill the High Street
The changes are the temporary loss of 28 free short-term car parking spaces in return for wider pavements to enable residents and visitors to shop safely in accordance with social distancing requirements to prevent further COVI19 infection. No-one likes the loss of convenience but government guidelines during this continuing international health emergency are clear – we must maintain social distancing to keep residents and visitors safe.
Residents and visitors who have relied on free parking on the Upper High Street must, of course, make their own decisions about whether they will make small adjustments during this health emergency to make use of and support our local shops or businesses, or spend more time and money to drive miles to go elsewhere or do more shopping on-line. But the early feedback from our retailers is that with the exception of the High Street Co-Op, where some trade has understandably moved to the Gloucester Road Co-Op, trade is better than expected and, where comparisons can be made, at least as good as elsewhere. We are still at the point where many shops are operating reduced hours and the hospitality providers – which generate a high proportion of visits into Malmesbury - have not re-opened yet. The wider pavements are also giving residents and visitors a chance to make use of the extra space to take a little more time to look at our fantastic local businesses in a new light. There is little or nothing that can’t be bought in Malmesbury. We can all make choices but there are so many good reasons to shop local.
None of us living in and around Malmesbury have experienced anything like the continuing COVID 19 emergency. The reality is that the combination of our historic narrow pavements and our fantastic independent shops, cafes and pubs, which have to limit the number of people they can let inside at any one time, means we have to widen some pavements to give residents and visitors the best chance to stay safe. The requirement is the same at 1metre plus as at 2metres social distancing. Unfortunately social distancing looks like it is going to be with us for months to come to help prevent the spread of infection. But we are listening and want to do the best we can.
Q: Why have you made these changes to the High Street and Oxford Street?
A: Government Covid-19 regulations require that the High Street and neighbouring areas are safe for shoppers and visitors and meet the Government social distancing requirements. We have made the changes because our narrow High Street pavements flanked by parked cars combined with the need for shops and businesses to limit numbers inside premises and have room for queues on the pavements did not meet these requirements.
Q: Why have we stopped parking in the High Street here?
A: It was the only way to increase the space for pedestrians so everyone can use the High Street in accordance and keep to the Government’s safe social distancing requirements. The Cross Hayes car park is very close and there is 2 hours free parking in the Station Yard car park. Short term on street parking in Market Cross, outside the Abbey/ Old Bell and the Triangle has not been changed.
Q: Are these changes permanent or temporary?
They are temporary and will last for as long as the Government requires us to maintain social distancing.
Q: The changes look awful!
Some of the changes do look stark. The changes are a very quick response in accordance with Government requirements made with the support of Wiltshire Council to the COVID 19 health emergency with the intent to keep people safe while enabling our local businesses to open in accordance with government guidelines. The red signage is stipulated by government and Wiltshire Council. The other signage has been developed and installed by Malmesbury Town Team and Malmesbury Town Council.
Q: Is the one way system for pedestrians compulsory?
It is intended to help. It is for each individual to act in accordance with the government’s social distancing guidelines. We expect it to be self-managing.
Q: Where can I cross the High Street?
Wherever you like if you consider it safe to do so. We have also had mobility ramps installed along either side of the High Street to help those with mobility problems to move easily from the new road walkway to the pavement.
Q: Where can we park now?
The best places to park are the Cross Hayes car park and the Station Yard car park. The first two hours parking at the Station Yard car park is free.
Q: I am disabled. Where can I park?
There are two blue badge bays on the Lower High Street, four in the Cross Hayes and a new blue badge area in the Market Cross (on the right hand side in place of the taxi rank). Blue badge holders parking in a disabled bay can park there for a maximum of 3 hrs, holders may also park in any other space in the Cross Hayes car park free of charge with a maximum limit of 23 hrs.
Q: I have a mobility scooter – where can I drive it and park it?
You can use your scooter just as you have always done - you just have less parked cars to navigate around. If you have to park your mobility scooter then, as usual, please park it in a suitable location. The best places will be just inside the coned new pavement areas.
Q: When will there be public toilets open?
The new public toilets by the Town Hall in Cross Hayes are expected to be open in early July. They are being fitted out to be as contactless as possible.
Q: I will need some help when I am in the High Street
While the new arrangements settle down volunteers – the #AskMe team - will be on hand again this week in the High Street at the busiest times to answer questions and provide help where possible. Look out for them in their maroon bibs from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
Q: Who do I talk to if I have questions before I set off to the High Street?
Q: Where can I park (leave) my cycle safely?
There are cycle racks by the Town Hall (near the old toilets at the corner of Cross Hayes and Oxford Street). Parking your bike by the back wall in Birdcage Walk is also a good idea. We are working on getting some temporary bike racks installed at a couple of locations if we can.
Q. Where can I buy and spend the Malmesbury Gift Card?
You can buy the Malmesbury Gift Card from The Wild Food Company and French Grey plus the Tourist Information Centre when it reopens and online at www.malmesburygiftcard.com . Over 34 shops and businesses accept the card, they are listed on www.malmesburygiftcard.com .
Q: Where can I have a picnic?
We have a great open space – Cloister Gardens - behind the Abbey. You will be welcome to enjoy a picnic there. Or the parks at the bottom of the High Street (St Aldhelm’s Mead) are great places for a picnic.
Q: Where can I make any suggestions or ask more questions?
Please let us know about any other questions – we can add to this list!
We hope you enjoy your visit to Malmesbury. Above all, Stay safe.