Traffic barriers restricting vehicular access to pedestrianised areas in Melton town centre could be re-introduced.
Melton Council is concerned about an increasing issue of vehicles flouting restrictions by entering and parking in the pedestrianised areas, particularly the Market Place, during busy shopping periods.
These areas are subject to a permanent traffic restriction order where vehicles have restricted access (no vehicular movement) between 10am and 4pm (except on Sundays). The only vehicles allowed in the areas during these times are those with authorisation.
The council claims the problem has increased as a result of Leicestershire County Council Highways not replacing the bollards in High Street and Nottingham Street in particular, as well as in King Street. It has also told Melton Council there is no county council budget to replace these bollards.
In respect of illegal parking in the zones the council has raised its concerns with Harborough District Council, which manages the civil enforcement officers, and says steps have already been taken to tackle the issue.
In the meantime Melton’s town centre managers are already working with other key agencies and partners with the aim of finding a suitable longer-term solution for managing vehicle movement within the pedestrian areas.
Options and costings will be outlined at a meeting of Melton Council’s rural, economic and environmental affairs committee in June.
Town centre manager Lisa Brown said: “The whole point of the pedestrian areas was to create a safe environment for shoppers and pedestrians. There have been a lot of near misses and a few incidents where vehicles have clipped people, I’ve had my heel clipped.
“Some drivers just don’t read the signs while others might have flouted the traffic order innocently but there’s a danger element because people who might be walking through the town centre with their children don’t expect traffic coming behind them.
”There needs to be a physical barrier. Any automated barriers are going to be very expensive, and we haven’t got that kind of budget, but there needs to be a solution.
“We need to look at options for different types of barriers. The issue is going to be getting people to manage them. It may be that we can work with partners to achieve this.
“Whichever option we choose will also have to make it easy for emergency vehicles to gain access.”
A Leicestershire County Council spokesman said: “We take the safety of pedestrians and motorists very seriously and, since the removal of the bollards around Melton’s pedestrianised town centre, we have been working with Melton Council on ways to ensure safety in the area is maintained.
“The bollards were removed because of damage and disrepair and a decision was taken not to replace them because of the ongoing cost of maintaining them. We’re working with Melton Council to find a more cost-effective, long-term solution to enforcing the traffic restrictions in the area.”