Claims 'emergency' road closures in Chesterfield town centre have 'achieved nothing' and should be reversed

Calls have been made for ‘pop-up’ road closures in Chesterfield to be scrapped as council leaders decide how to spend a new round of Government funding.

Thursday, 19th November 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 19th November 2020, 10:02 am

Ministers provided ‘emergency’ cash for councils to close a number of roads this summer in a bid to encourage more people to walk and cycle – as well as to enhance social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Derbyshire County Council received £443,000 and in Chesterfield closed Corporation Street, South Place and Crow Lane to traffic – but faced criticism from opposition politicians and residents.

Now the Government has announced a further £175m of funding for local authorities through its Active Travel Fund, although Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has warned councils that cash could be clawed back if they fail to consult properly.

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Liberal Democrat Councillor Keith Falconer at the closed road signs on Corporation Street in Chesterfield.

Chesterfield and District Civic Society says the first round of town centre road closures has ‘achieved little or nothing’ and urged the council to use a different approach with the £1,684,350 it has been awarded this time.

Society chairman Philip Riden said: “We consider the erection of crash barriers and, more seriously, large concrete blocks along several streets in the town centre, so as to widen pavements, also to have achieved little if anything.

"Both are ugly and make the streets less attractive to shoppers, which is surely the opposite of what local authorities should be trying to achieve.

Chesterfield town centre road closures have become a target for graffiti. Photo: Chesterfield and District Civic Society.

"They have also reduced the available parking, particularly for disabled people.”

The society also claimed the concrete blocks have become a target for graffiti.

“We hope that the council will not use this new funding round to close any more roads in the town centre or install any more pavement-widening measures,” Mr Riden added.

A Derbyshire County Council spokesperson said: “We received the letter from the civic society, and will consider the points raised.”

Chesterfield borough councillor Keith Falconer described the initial closures as a ‘badly thought out failure’.

“Eight months on these makeshift barriers need rethinking and redesigning,” Coun Falconer added.

"Safe and well-planned cycle routes, such as that alongside the Inner Relief Road, are to be supported. Tokenistic and badly thought through gestures are not.

"Especially when the Government has, for once, made available large sums of money to enable serious measures to encourage pedestrian and cycle access.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.