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Bury St Edmunds town centre changes unveiled ahead of shops reopening

A council has unveiled plans for Bury St Edmunds town centre to ensure social distancing as shops prepare to reopen next week.

West Suffolk Council's has drafted a number of measures to ensure businesses and shoppers can maintain social distancing and the town's Business Improvement District has invested in signs and pavement distancing strips.

From Monday, June 15, non-essential retail in England can reopen including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, all furniture stores, books, and electronics, tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets.

Map of Bury St Edmunds town centre. Picture: West Suffolk Council (36265914)
Map of Bury St Edmunds town centre. Picture: West Suffolk Council (36265914)

The authority has outlined measures for Bury St Edmunds town centre in the above map.

Initiatives include a one-way walking system in Market Thoroughfare and Central Walk (1).

The council is looking at suspending on street parking in the stretch of road from the corner of Abbeygate Street and Buttermarket up Buttermarket to Marks & Spencer (5).

In Abbeygate Street, it will continue to review the existing traffic regulation order which excludes vehicles (10am-4pm) and will explore suspending on street parking outside of these hours for social distancing (3). Any changes to TRO times will consider deliveries.

Among the initiatives being kept under review by West Suffolk Council is queuing for Marks and Spencer on market days as the market gradually reopens (2).

It will explore relocation for taxi rank queuing on Cornhill when shops open (4), the need for footpath changes and cycle provision and priority (6 and 7) and keep St John’s Street under review due to narrow pavements, car parking and large volume of small businesses (8).

The authority has been working with Business Improvement Districts, business representatives as well as town and parish councils.

It says initiatives will 'evolve over time or will need changing to reflect how effective they are being and how people are following the new measures'.

West Suffolk Council is also producing a pack for businesses including signage designs to download and printed signs.

Cllr John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “We all want to see businesses re-open and people able to enjoy more freedoms but this must be done safely to avoid undoing the great work almost everyone has done to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

"We are leading on this with partners such as local BIDs (Business Improvement Districts), business representatives, town and parish councils, and looking at tailored solutions for individual towns and areas.

"The measures being suggested follow engagement with local groups, councils and organisations and are part of our wider support of the economic recovery of West Suffolk and our response to COVID-19 to protect our communities.

"But we all have a part to play in this.

"Safety is the main focus and keeping socially distanced is our first line of defence.

"It is the responsibility of businesses to make sure they have appropriate measures in place, but we must all do our bit in keeping two metres apart and following guidance to stop the spread of infection.

"National guidelines will undoubtedly change, and it is anticipated that the measures being taken will evolve to ensure safety and where we need to improve things. This will of course be kept under review. Stick with it and keep us all safe as well as supporting your local businesses.”

Mark Cordell, chief Executive of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, said: “I have been involved in productive discussions with West Suffolk Council over recent weeks about ensuring we take actions that demonstrate to the public that Bury St Edmunds is a safe place to visit.

"The BID has contributed to this objective and have paid for and placed around the town information signs and pavement distancing strips.

"At the same time our businesses have been reopening and planning to reopen from Monday by introducing safety and hygiene measures to ensure that their staff and customers can safely visit their businesses. I am confident that potential customers will feel reassured and will be happy, once again, to support our local businesses.”

Among the shops reopening on Monday is Hughes Electrical, in Brentgovel Street. It will be closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Customers will be required to use hand gel on entering and there will be social distancing markers on the floor.

Visit www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/saferplaces

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