I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contacted Faversham Town Council and Swale Borough Council about the pedestrianisation of our Town Centre. Due to COVID-19, many people have let us know their views, whether by social media or by writing to the Town Council directly. We appreciate hearing from everyone. The majority of comments received have been supportive of the closure but we take on board the genuine concern that other people have had.
Some disabled people have said they find it easier to use mobility scooters and frames, also our elderly population living in or close to the Town Centre, parents with buggies and children all feeling safer.
I am however concerned and sympathetic that blue badge holders are not able to park directly outside shops throughout the day, but there are a number of designated parking spaces nearby. Please see map for location.
Alternatively, they can access the town before 10 am or after 4 pm. We are aware that businesses are doing their best to accommodate disabled visitors, providing appointments outside road closure times. I thank them for that.
As you are aware, government guidance has been changing by the day, particularly at the height of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Town Council wanted to help as many businesses to open when allowed and support the proposal to pedestrianize the Town Centre from 10 am till 4 pm six days a week for this very purpose.
We felt this would enable social distancing and encourage more people to shop in our town, as we realised that during lockdown people shopped online it would also enable the hospitality businesses, (who had ceased trading for the longest period) to reopen. We contacted businesses as soon as we could, but fully appreciate that it was with little notice.
Please be assured that the Court Street gate is the designated emergency entrance and the fire brigade have a key. We also have key holders on hand to open the gate for other emergency services.
Over the few months, we have met with and listened to businesses and passed on their concerns to Swale Borough Council. The Town Council has asked for the road closure to be adjusted to 10 am to 2 pm on non-market days and 10 am to 3 pm on market days, we believe this would strike a fair balance and give people a choice to come into town at a car-free period. We have been advised that Swale Borough Council will review the road closure again in September. A new loading bay has been formed at the rear of 12 Market Place and we requested other mitigations to ease the process. We know that footfall is increasing from undertaking regular footfall counts, but social distancing continues to be vital.
As we are aware, the Autumn, and beyond is going to be very challenging for all during this Pandemic. We have kept businesses informed of all central government, Borough and Town Grants that were available.
These strange times call for adaptation, mitigation, helping our families friends and neighbours and being supportive and respectful to all. Let’s please work together as the health and safety of the people is paramount. Walking around town, I see a great community spirit, people feeling more confident to come in, with the knowledge that we have made it as safe as possible for them.
Thank you for working together.
Cllr Alison Reynolds
Mayor of Faversham
13 August 2020