Council leader's pedestrianisation call for Harrogate town centre streets

Harrogate council’s leader says parts of the town centre need to be pedestrianised after chaotic scenes at the weekend highlighted the challenges of reopening the town’s economy.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 11:39 am
Updated Friday, 5th June 2020, 11:40 am
Should Harrogate town centre streets such as Albert Street be pedestrianised permanently to help revive the retail sector?

Coun Richard Cooper said: “I think space is the key issue and that is one reason why I would like to see James Street, Albert Street and Princes Square completely closed to traffic.

“That way there is room for cafes and restaurants to serve takeaways out of their premises and for more people to get nearer to the shops in which they wish to shop while maintaining social distancing.”

The council leader’s personal comments come after police had to increase patrols on Sunday as crowds gathered after a small number of bars reopened to serve takeaway drinks in the sunny weather.

Enforcement officers issued The Coach & Horses with a prohibition notice to stop serving beer after it was said to be ignoring concerns that customers were breaching social distancing rules by hanging around on the pavement on West Park in close groups.

Coun Cooper said: “Pubs can open to serve takeaway; that is absolutely clear. Some pubs have done this really well and when they have seen problems with social distancing near their premises have acted responsibly.

“We have had one establishment that, unfortunately, didn’t behave in the same way at the weekend.

“Putting chairs and tables on the grass verges and public highway is hardly encouraging people to socially distance.”

In light of the Government’s decision to allow all non-essential shops to reopen from next Thursday with the hospitality sector likely to follow in July, the council’s priority remains to support the revival of business in the town centre in a safe way.

Coun Cooper said: “It is important that people do start using the town again but do so in a responsible way ensuring that infection risk is kept low.

“I encourage businesses to plan for reopening but it isn’t necessarily going to be easy.

“It will require patience and understanding on all our parts.”

The social media storm created by the sight of crowds of drinkers along West Park at the weekend illustrates how delicate the situation is.

Coun Cooper said: “We have shown over the past ten weeks how well we can all work together to support the community. Now is the time to do the same to support local shops and businesses.”

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