Wiltshire Council is set to receive £227,000 of government funding to support the use of temporary and pop-up measures to create a safe environment for walking and cycling. It is not yet know how much of this funding will be available for the Melksham Community Area.
Following significant changes in travel behaviours during COVID-19 which saw more people choosing to walk and cycle during their daily exercise, these new measures will help encourage walking and cycling activity to continue whilst maintaining social distance. They play a key role in helping to avoid overcrowding on public transport as shops and businesses start to reopen.
This indicative allocation is part of the first tranche of funding from the government’s £250 million Emergency Active Travel Fund. The initial focus promotes cycling as a replacement for journeys previously made by public transport and could include closing some roads to through traffic, installing segregated cycle lanes and widening pavements.
Many suggestions for schemes across the county have been received and those that meet the funding criteria, including timescales, will be prioritised. Work on these priority schemes will need to start within four weeks of receiving the funding and completed within eight weeks from starting.
The Melksham Area Board are holding an informal meeting of the Community Area Transport Group (CATG) online on Thursday 4th June to consider the prioritisation of schemes in the Melksham area and will be feeding the issues and recommendations from that meeting to officers in Wiltshire's Highways team.
Chair of the Melksham CATG Cllr Jon Hubbard commented, "We were very keen that we gave a good opportunity for this group, which has a great track record of focussing on highways issues, to have their say. The Area Board was determined that the public's voice should be heard as this work develops."
A further tranche of funding is likely to be released later in the summer and will help support permanent cycling and walking measures throughout the county.
In addition, Wiltshire Council has been awarded approximately £450,000 to support the safe reopening of high streets across Wiltshire.
This funding comes from the government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund and supports measures that ensure businesses and their customers can trade safely. This could include temporary changes to public spaces owned by the council and which are next to businesses so they can be reopened safely and supporting retailers on how to make temporary adjustments to their premises to comply with social distancing.
Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “As we start to come out of lockdown, the council will play a key role in implementing a range of measures that will help businesses reopen safely and give confidence and reassurance to the public that they can travel and shop safely.
“Some measures will be easier to implement such as pavement stickers outside shops showing 2 metres apart and others will take a bit longer as we reconfigure pavements to support social distancing for shoppers. However, we will work with town and parish councils and key partners to ensure there is local support for any scheme that is progressed and we will aim to implement as many schemes as possible.
“We would encourage everyone to support local businesses and act responsibly as we all get used to coming out of lockdown.”