Plans for a temporary one-way system in Budleigh Salterton High Street are being drawn up to boost social distancing and the safety of shoppers and traders.
Town councillors last night (Monday) unanimously backed a call to ask county highways officers to produce detailed proposals for the scheme.
They have emphasised the bid should not ‘burden’ side roads and that parking for disabled motorists should be included.
Councillors discussed an idea which would see High Street made one-way, east to west, from Rolle Road to The Lawn or possibly the junction with Station Road.
There would be no parking from Staddons to Ragg Lane and the south-side pavement of High Street would be widened.
The concept will now go to Devon County Council (DCC) so it can devise formal plans.
Talks heard that, once finalised, any scheme will then take two weeks to implement.
‘Non-essential’ businesses have been told by the Government they can reopen on June 15.
Budleigh Salterton Town Council discussed the mooted one-way system – to help with social distancing and keep residents, visitors and traders safe – at a virtual meeting last night.
It heard there had been an element of ‘hysteria’ and ‘unnecessary panic’ from some members of the public over the idea – with the authority receiving a number of emails expressing concern.
Worries included the impact of extra traffic on East Terrace and West Terrace.
Budleigh Salterton Chamber of Commerce president Alan Tilbury told councillors traders were ‘not happy’ with the ‘quite terrible’ thought of no parking being included in the proposals.
He added that, without parked cars acting as a ‘traffic-calming’ measure, vehicles could start ‘racing through’ the town centre.
Resident Jon James said householders were upset by the prospect of increased traffic in West Terrace and East Terrace, adding: “That’s going to create a lot of disruption for elderly residents and residents like myself with kids in the street.”
District councillor Tom Wright said the one-way system should be imposed from the traffic lights at the junction of Station Road – with ‘some kind of chicane’ to deal with increased speeds.
He added the notion of extra traffic being displaced to the ‘rabbit warren’ area of East Terrace and West Terrace was an ‘absolute no-goer’.
Deputy mayor Councillor Mike Hilliar said he was not against a one-way system, but did not want to see it start at the traffic lights in Station Road.
He added this would ‘divert people away from the town’ and, following on from gas works last year, could ‘destroy the high street’.
Cllr Henry Riddell said: “If we don’t do something, there is going to be an accident. I was outside Co-Op the other day and a car mounted the kerb – how it didn’t hit me, I don’t know.”
Cllr Megan Kenneally-Stone said: “It’s about keeping High Street as safe as possible…it was horrific last week.”
She added that traffic is faster, heavier and motorists are mounting the pavements more.
“If it’s explained properly and in a positive manner, people will adapt to the change,” said Cllr Kenneally-Stone
“Some of the changes should stay – we just don’t need the amount of traffic going through the High Street.”
Cllr Graham Turner told colleagues: “We are not highways officers.”
He added that it was up to the professionals to now take the idea forward and deal with its design, costs, safety aspects and legal issues.
Cllr Penny Lewis said: “This is about safety in this very difficult time.”
Cllr David Hayward added: “We all have to bend on this one because it’s about the safety of the public.”
Councillors voted unanimously to ask DCC highways officers to create a plan for a one-way system in High Street, to ensure it doesn’t ‘burden auxiliary roads’ and that parking provision is included for disabled people.
Members will meet again once the proposals are produced.
Town clerk Jo Vanstone said, once approved, the scheme would take around a fortnight to implement, adding: “If we can get it in by the end of June, we’ll be doing well.”