THE LEADER of Rugby Borough Council (RBC) has joined the chorus of disapproval over the temporary one-way road system in Rugby town centre.
Coun Seb Lowe called on Warwickshire County Council (WCC) to ‘urgently’ review the scheme – introduced on Monday (June 22) to help shoppers maintain social distancing – after town centre businesses said it was harming trade, and following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday (June 23) that social distancing guidelines would soon change.
He said: “It was important for WCC to consider how the town centre could reopen safely, but after seeing the changes that have been introduced I am asking that they be reviewed as soon as possible.
“Businesses in the town centre have made it very clear that these measures are having an impact on trade.
“The county council must urgently open a conversation with residents and businesses to ensure that any measures that are needed for the town centre to be Covid-secure have the support of Rugbeians.”
Before the scheme was introduced, RBC’s Labour and Liberal Democrat groups slammed WCC for not letting local residents and businesses have their say.
At the time, Conservative Coun Lowe said: “We have worked hard at implementing measures to support businesses and keep our residents safe.
“The council will continue to work with partners to monitor our open spaces and ensure that we can support the town centre by making sure that it is a safe and welcoming place to be. We need to act and adapt to make sure that these changes work well.”
Also speaking before the changes were implemented, Coun Jeff Clarke, transport and planning spokesman for the Conservative-controlled WCC, said: “Overall there is a consensus among partners that this is the right thing to do in Rugby.
“The plans will help businesses operate, and give our businesses and communities a much-needed boost.”
“We will be monitoring the scheme carefully and will adapt it if necessary.”
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 has had from residents and businesses is that it is “a prohibitive system which will make things harder for them”.
Speaking in the House of Commons after the Prime Minister announced the two-metre rule would be halved, Rugby MP Mark Pawsey said the “unwelcome one-way system and the removal of on-street parking… would no longer be necessary.”
Boris Johnson responded: “These measures obviate the need for the cursed one-way system which he describes.”
Yesterday (Wednesday June 24), The Observer asked WCC if the scheme will be reviewed following the announcement. WCC has not yet responded.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/covid19roadlayouts for more information on the one-way system.