ANOTHER council removes social-distancing spaces: Town’s pavement-widening barriers are latest to be taken down amid backlash over them squeezing out drivers
- Fife Council removed the ‘unsightly’ barriers after outcry from local businesses
- The barriers on St Andrew’s main road Market Street cut off 30 parking spaces
- Businesses owners said it was affecting trade, prompting 1,000-strong petition
- A spate of UK councils have removed barriers after backlash from communities
Council chiefs have removed ‘unsightly’ street barriers in the Scottish town of St Andrews after an outcry from local business owners.
Fife Council installed the barriers on Market Street, in St Andrews, the town’s busiest thoroughfare.
They were removed after a backlash, forcing the council to become the latest authority to cave to pressure from locals and remove the barriers.
Authorities across the UK have come under fire for erecting barriers in busy town and city centres.
Fife Council installed the barriers on Market Street (pictured), in St Andrews – the town’s busiest thoroughfare – but had to remove them after a backlash from business owners
The red and white plastic barriers in St Andrews were reportedly designed to widen pavements and allow more space for pedestrians and cyclists.
But the cordons cut off more than 30 parking spaces, angering locals and business owners as the restrictions affected custom and trade as no one could park along the street.
Fife Council scrapped the ‘Spaces for People’ infrastructure within days of their installation after more than 1,000 people called for a local authority U-turn.
The barriers were pulled down after 60 members of the local business improvement district (BID) formed a petition.
Angry business owners feared the loss of car parking spaces would affect trade and penalise the elderly and disabled who would ‘no longer be able to access the shopping centre without difficulty’.
They wrote on their petition: ‘We understand that Fife Council are implementing these measures on health and safety grounds but some of the measures directly contradict and contravene the government’s recommendations that the public try and avoid public transport and travel by car if possible, to stop the spread of COVID19.
‘How can they travel if they can’t park?’
One social media user branded the barriers ‘unsightly’ and said they were ‘implemented without consideration’ for local businesses.
Council’s across the country have come under fire for erecting barriers in busy town and city centres.
One social media user branded the barriers in St Andrews ‘unsightly’ and said they were ‘implemented without consideration’ for local businesses
Stuart Winton posted a picture of the ‘parking suspended’ sign on St Andrew’s Market Street
Bus companies, taxi drivers and private motorists also voice their concern after barriers were put up on a busy street in Melton, Leicestershire.
The drivers felt the reduced road width made it increasingly difficult to travel through the town centre, reported the Melton Times.
Red and white markers placed on Deptford High Street in south east London were also removed by the council after they were repeatedly knocked out of formation by drivers trying to navigate the narrow road.
Defending their decision Fife Council said the barriers were not currently needed and they could return in time for the Christmas shopping rush.
Altany Craik, convener of Fife Council’s economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation committee, said: ‘The demand for space varies over time with Christmas expected to have a higher demand for pedestrian space in town centre shopping streets.
Traffic barriers installed on Deptford high street in south east London were also removed
‘Therefore, as the footways are wider in Market Street, the measures have been removed for the time being.
‘However, should things change, and when the town becomes busier again on the run up to Christmas, we will reconsider this area and the potential to provide further space to help with social distancing.’
But some angry locals hit out at the decision to remove the barriers.
Professor Richard Olver, emeritus professor of child health at the University of Dundee, said: ‘I am frankly shocked to learn that during a public health emergency, a decision has been taken to remove most, if not all, the Spaces for People measures, without further consultation with any stakeholders other than BID St Andrews.
A social media user applauded news that the barriers in St Andrews would be removed
‘St Andrews is peppered with signs instructing pedestrians to keep two metres apart in accordance with Sottish Government guidance, but Fife Council is now dismantling the very measures necessary to allow this to happen.
‘I believe this to be totally irresponsible and it will render safe physical distancing impossible when the streets are busy with students and visitors, forcing people either to rub shoulders or walk into the road – as I personally have had to do on numerous occasions.
‘With an outbreak of coronavirus in the university and an upsurge in cases elsewhere in Fife, the timing could not be worse.
‘Prioritising business interests at the expense of the health needs of the public is surely wrongheaded.
‘After all, neither residents nor visitors will not want to shop in the town centre if they do not feel safe.’