Budleigh Salterton Town Council is to scrap controversial plans for a temporary one-way system in High Street and has apologised to residents and traders.
The authority had proposed the measure to boost social distancing and keep shoppers safe by widening a stretch of pavement.
However, some 45 businesses – said to be all but four in the town – signed a petition opposing the scheme.
The strength of feeling has prompted a U-turn from the council, which says supporting the reopening of shops and the wellbeing of residents and visitors had been its sole purpose.
It has also said sorry to those who feel they had not been consulted over the proposal.
A formal decision on withdrawing the application for the mooted one-way system will be made next week.
In a statement issued yesterday evening (Wednesday, July 8), Budleigh Town Council said: “Covid-19 is a very infectious virus still around today, with no cure or vaccine yet. Avoiding a local outbreak of Covid-19 relies on respecting social distancing.
“Following the public health recommendations to help combat the pandemic, Budleigh Salterton Town Council (BSTC) had serious concerns regarding public safety in the High Street.
“BSTC councillors, taking advice from a variety of sources, formed an option to keep shoppers, visitors and businesses safe from the virus by widening a stretch of pavement and by reducing the volume of traffic in the High Street.
“The town council has received representation from businesses and residents expressing concerns about the proposed scheme and that they have not been consulted during the decision-making process.
“The town council apologises to all residents and businesses.
“BSTC mistakenly believed the necessary consultation had taken place, this was not so, and recognises it is the responsibility of the council to ensure all is done correctly.
“Therefore, town councillors have agreed to propose supporting the cancellation of the proposed Temporary Traffic Restriction Order (TTRO), meaning that plans to temporarily introduce a one-way system will not take place.
“BSTC remains committed to ensuring the High Street is a great place to shop and visit and we will be working with all members of the community to achieve this aim in the future.
“Once again BSTC apologises to residents and traders, our purpose was solely to support the reopening of the High Street whilst keeping residents and visitors safe during this difficult time.”
A special virtual town council meeting has been called for Monday evening when councillors will formally decide on withdrawing the TTRO application to Devon County Council.
Members will also consider whether to set up a working group aiming to ‘encourage the use of High Street by helping to keep people safe while they are adhering to social distancing measures’. A ‘whole-town communication strategy’ would form part of this.
The council will also discuss costings for online survey tool SurveyMonkey and whether it should pursue a trial membership.
Read more on the Budleigh High Street one-way system proposal below.