Further Covid-secure measures for Thanet’s high streets and seafronts are being considered by the district council, including one way systems on pavements and using parking bays along Marine Drive in Margate to widen the pavement.
Temporary road closures and suspended parking bays were among some of the highway changes in Margate’s Old Town and Ramsgate’s Harbour Parade introduced by Thanet council on Saturday, July 18, to help prevent overcrowding and enable social distancing.
The changes are part of a raft of Reopening High Streets Safely (RHSS) temporary measures to help successfully kickstart Thanet’s economy and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
With peak season now here, the aim of the project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is to create a pleasant environment for visitors to the high street, allow more space for shoppers to be socially distant and enable pedestrian flow.
The following changes are being trialled for a period of three months and their effectiveness is being continually monitored. The measures have been introduced in consultation with the Highways Authority (Kent County Council.)
- Temporarily suspending 14 parking bays along Harbour Parade in Ramsgate, from Little Ships through to The Queens Head, in order to widen the pavement.
- Temporarily shutting off The Parade in Margate which is very narrow.
- Limiting traffic by making King Street, Market Street and Lombard Street in Margate Old Town access only.
- Converting the decommissioned bus stop on the main seafront section of The Parade (Margate) into a loading bay to help support businesses. Civil Enforcement Officers are carrying out targeted enforcement in this area while the change embeds.
Businesses have been contacted by the council and are aware of the action taken to support reopening. They have been encouraged to provide feedback.
Based on initial comments, the council will put up signs in Margate Old Town confirming ‘Businesses open as usual’. Some of the barriers along Harbour Parade, Ramsgate will be removed to allow people to leave premises with greater ease and to cross the road more safely.
Leader of Thanet District Council, Cllr Rick Everitt said: “We are doing as much as possible to support our high streets and help the recovery process. But we have to balance that with the safety and wellbeing of people visiting and working in our town centres when COVID-19 has not gone away.
“We’re expecting a high number of visitors this summer and we all need to take responsibility to follow social distancing guidelines. We hope that these temporary measures will make it safer and easier for people to support our local high streets.
“While these measures cover Margate and Ramsgate, it’s important to be clear that we have been in discussions with other town and parish councils across Thanet, as well as relevant ward councillors. We have taken account of what they told us in respect of their areas. If needed, there is scope for a decision around where additional schemes may occur in the future.
“We would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to provide us with their feedback. We are continually reviewing comments and have already made changes as a direct result of feedback received.”
The council says it is aware of issues with people removing barriers and signs. CCTV is in operation in both locations and is being closely monitored, along with patrols of the area. Any person that moves the barrier causing danger to users of the highway is guilty of an offence under the Highways Act 1980 and liable to a maximum fine of £1000.
A dedicated information page for businesses is available at thanet.gov.uk/reopening