THE CONTROVERSIAL one-way system in Rugby town centre will be scrapped on Sunday (June 28) after pressure from residents, businesses and councillors.
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) decided to reverse the temporary scheme – introduced on Monday (June 22) to help shoppers maintain social distancing – ‘as it became increasingly clear that a consensus could not be reached with local businesses, partners and stakeholders’.
WCC transport and planning spokesman Coun Jeff Clarke said: “It is disappointing that we have not come to a consensus on what was needed in Rugby.
“We were firmly of the belief that, while the scheme’s primary intention was to safeguard the public and enable safe social distancing, businesses would also benefit from having more space on the roads.
“This would allow their customers to circulate safely around the town, queue where necessary and to be able to accommodate more customers when bars, cafés and restaurants are able to reopen after July 4, with the increase in footfall that that will bring.
“We always said that we had to act quickly, in line with the government’s expectation, and get something ready which could then be adapted.
“As with other schemes around the county, we have listened to partners, the business community and other stakeholders with the view that schemes could be adapted depending on what issues were identified.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to agree a compromise in Rugby. We were not willing to continue with the scheme without their full backing or that of the Borough Council.”
On Wednesday (June 24), Rugby Borough Council (RBC) leader Coun Seb Lowe called for an ‘urgent’ review into the scheme after town centre businesses said it was harming trade.
Before the scheme was introduced, RBC’s Labour and Liberal Democrat groups slammed WCC for not letting local residents and businesses have their say.
RBC’s Labour group leader Coun Maggie O’Rourke described the one-way system as “an act of vandalism on our beautiful town centre”.
Lib Dem group leader Coun Jerry Roodhouse said the overwhelming feedback he had from residents and businesses is that it was “a prohibitive system which will make things harder for them”.
A petition against the scheme had attracted over 1,000 signatures within three days.
A WCC spokesperson said: “The scheme had been put into place so as to follow then government guidance around the reopening of retail on June 15, and in anticipation of further reopening of the hospitality sector on July 4.
“It was designed to create additional space required for social distancing and to give people visiting the town centre confidence that they could move about safely.
“It created additional space for queuing and for bars and restaurants to be able to seat customers outside.”
Traffic management will be withdrawn and street furniture reinstalled from Sunday (June 28), with no road closures.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/covid19roadlayouts for more information about further roadspace reallocation schemes in Warwickshire.