After closing Penrith town centre to traffic on Saturday to improve social distancing due the COVID-19 pandemic Cumbria County Council said they have listened to feedback and improved signage around the town and will carry out regular reviews on the situation.
Cumbria County Council says restrictions which have seen the A6 route cordoned off at its northern and southern town ends were “done so in good faith in line with the Government’s social distancing measures”. It has been done, it says, to “limit the risk to the general public”.
A county council spokesperson said: “The temporary emergency traffic measures introduced in Penrith town centre were done so in good faith in line with the Government’s social distancing measures and were solely designed to help both residents and visitors access local businesses in a safe way.
“Since their implementation on Saturday, the council has received a lot of feedback from members of the community and businesses which we continue to take into account. This feedback, along with the revised government guidance which the Prime Minister announced yesterday, stating that social distancing can be reduced to 1m+, provides us with the opportunity to improve the current scheme and look at alternative options for the town centre. It was always the intention, as is the case with all temporary traffic orders, to carry out regular reviews and make changes as necessary.
“In response to feedback, we have already improved the signage around the area to give greater clarity on access arrangements, diversion routes and directions to car parking.
“Our message to the public remains that Penrith is very much open for business and people are encouraged to visit while complying with safe social distancing guidance and in line with Public Health England advice. Eden District Council’s car parks are free to use until the end of July and there are various other free parking options around the town too.
“The council is absolutely committed to keeping its communities safe and supporting local businesses to thrive and officers and Members continue to work tirelessly to develop an improved solution to enable this to happen as a matter of urgency.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their feedback and for their understanding and patience.”
Speaking on Saturday Dan Harding, 32, of Angel Lane Chippie accepted there was a need for some form of coronavirus prevention measures. “But this has clearly been a pie in the sky idea from a county council officer working from his home using Google maps,” he said. “There is no need to block the town off. This has just not been thought out and there has been no consultation, I don’t care what anybody says.”
Penrith county councillor Helen Fearon has asked for “everyone’s co-operation and understanding as we are all adapting to new ways of living and working during this difficult time”.
“The new measures will be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis,” she said ahead of the closure. “I understand that the business community in Penrith may have some concerns regarding the new temporary measures, however I’d like to reassure them that we will continue to work closely with them and support them to overcome any challenges the new measures may create.”