One-way system in Oakham has divided opinion with people fearing it will become a permanent change to the town centre
Temporary one-way systems in Oakham have caused a rift between a community group and the public.
4Oakham and Oakham Town Council requested the changes in Mill Street and Market Place to provide more space for social distancing and allow businesses to install outdoor seating.
So far only one business has applied for a license to install outdoor seating, but many residents have raised concerns about the one-way system becoming permanent.
Fears escalated last week when new white lines were painted in Market Place to mark out a reduced number of parking spaces.
Rutland County Council and 4Oakham have both tried to assure people that the changes are temporary to help the high street recover after lockdown.
4Oakham chairman Thomas Cooper said: “Funds were made available from Government to help towns cope in the post-lock down era and to enable social distancing in the town centre.
“This was tasked to Oakham Town Council, but after a number of weeks we were frustrated nothing had happened so approached the town council with some plans.
“We ruled out the town council’s suggestion of a one-way system in the High Street due to previous issues and we emphasise that there is absolutely no plan for a one-way system .
“However we did feel there was a possibility of creating a safer environment for shoppers in Mill Street and the Market Place.
“4Oakham also saw that, though entirely a Covid response, this was a chance to test if wider pavements and one-way
traffic in Mill Street, while keeping on-street parking, could lead to a more café culture feel and enhance footfall.”
Plastic barriers were initially installed along Mill Street to give pedestrians more space to pass each other safely, but these have since been removed following complaints about them ruining the street scene.
Mr Copper added: “Despite the current backlash, there has been positive feedback from some residents and businesses, but
the main objection has been the unattractive style and the effect of the type of barrier that was installed.
“The barriers have now gone.
“4Oakham is not here to undemocratically change the town. We are volunteers with no financial gain and all we want to achieve is future prosperity for the town.”
4Oakham was set up by Rutland County Council to deliver plans to revitalise the town.
County councillor Lucy Stephenson (Con), who is responsible for highways, said: “4Oakham and Oakham Town Council have requested the temporary traffic measures on Mill Street and in Market Place to provide more pavement space for social distancing and the option of outdoor seating areas for food and drink businesses.
“Rutland County Council, acting as the highway authority, implemented the requested measures on July 16.
“4Oakham have since requested the removal of barriers on Mill Street, while parking bays in Market Place have now been marked out with temporary lines, to make them clearer. Temporary markings could not be painted when the measures were first introduced, due to the availability of contractors.
“We continue to work with 4Oakham and Oakham Town Council to keep the temporary one way systems on both Mill Street and Market Place under review, together with the latest government guidance around the safe management of town centres and other public spaces.”