Thanet council plans to prepare for the reopening of non-essential businesses on Monday (June 15) will include measures ranging from shutting roads to make access and queueing safer. Implementing 20mph zones in towns and on seafronts and removing parking bays to create space for seating and shoppers.
The measures are part of a range for Thanet District Council’s (TDC) covid recovery plan.
Proposals are likely to be funded from an £8 million government grant to the county council to bring in walking and cycling schemes across Kent if a TDC bid is successful and from a £126,456 government grant to Thanet council for high street reopening measures.
Proposals include closing Pier Yard car park during the day and a temporary removal of parking bays across the district to allow for increasing footpaths around businesses premises in locations including Marine Drive in Margate, Harbour Parade in Ramsgate, Westgate, Birchington and Northdown Road in Cliftonville.
The 20 mile an hour zones are proposed for high footfall areas, particularly through the town centres and around coastal frontages. Road closures, particularly in those areas where the pavements are narrow, would mean space for access and queuing for retail and food and drink outlets in areas such as Margate Old Town, Margate Lower High Street, Albion Street and Lower High Street Broadstairs, Station Approach Bridge Birchington. To do this TDC will need a Road Traffic Order, signage, cones or planters, costs for management of the opening and closing the access and maintenance.
The focus of the High Street Reopening funding will be:
- Ramsgate (High Street and Harbour Parade)
- Margate (High Street, Old Town and Marine Drive)
- Broadstairs (High Street)
- Cliftonville (Northdown Road)
- Birchington (Station Road)
- Westgate (Station Road)
Secondary retail areas may be considered for support, including Garlinge, Westbrook, Minster, St. Lawrence, and St. Peters.
TDC will install signs with icons at toilets, bus shelters, lamp posts, seafronts, high streets and on benches and empty shops with clear covid safety messages, such as distance markers and one way or keep left systems. There will also be increased town and toilet cleaning.
A report to council Cabinet members says: “We know that many more town centre businesses are planning for June 15 reopening in line with Government Guidance.
“We have been in detailed discussions for some while with parish and town councils, to discuss arrangements in other towns and villages. Our working assumption is that footfall may well be high as evidenced by those premises that have remained open for food and household essentials and other premises (such as garden centres) that have recently reopened.
“We also understand that many retailers will be holding sales. Experience has shown that it is vitally important that visitors feel safe and are given clear guidance on what to expect and how to observe social distancing rules. This has also been a clear message from businesses that have been open during lockdown.”
“Thanet covid recovery” plans also include increased enforcement to tackle anti-social behaviour on Thanet beaches. This will include a greater enforcement presence with Bay Inspectors and Enforcement Officers as well as additional security staff in the coming weeks and months. TDC will also work with the police and the RNLI to continually monitor the situation on the beaches.
The RNLI will provide resources on seven blue flag beaches with the support of TDC and other volunteer groups. Bay Inspectors will help with the supervision of lost children and assist the RNLI with minor first aid and liaison with emergency services.
Dates for beach cover are:
- Joss Bay and Botany Bay – June 13
- Margate – June 20
Dates to be confirmed for: Ramsgate, Stone Bay and Minnis Bay.
A report to Thanet council Cabinet members, who are due to discuss the plans on June 18, says: “At any other time, we’d be delighted at the prospect of thousands travelling to our beaches, and so would the many businesses and traders who make their living from our visitors.
“As soon as the government released the restrictions for people to travel it was inevitable that our beaches would become busy. The situation has created major logistical problems as businesses are not open and the normal preparations for the season have not been put in place, never mind extra ones to manage hygiene and social distancing in our public toilets.
“The vast majority of people using our beaches in the last few weeks, wherever they happen to live, have been respectful of the public health guidance and of each other.
“Inevitably, though, some have not. Some behaviour has been completely unacceptable, and the fact that we could not safely open all our coastal toilets has not helped. But the situation is unprecedented, as is the closure of the toilets in pubs, cafes and shops.”
The council is working with Kent Police and looking to gain devolved powers so that enforcement officers can taking action against drivers parking on kerbs or blocking driveways.
The Bay Inspectors are also supporting the cleansing service by issuing rubbish bags to the public, warning people who litter, monitoring litter bins and liaising with beach cleaners on litter hotspots.
Thanet council leader Rick Everitt said: “From June 15, retailers will be able to welcome back customers for the first time in over two months. This grant money will help us to better support them in opening as we follow government guidance through the recovery phase of this pandemic.
“Our high streets are an important part of the council’s recovery plan. We are working with partners, including our town councils and Kent County Council, on how best to re-open and allow the district to continue its recovery whilst minimising risks to visitors, employees and business owners.”