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End of the road for most of the controversial social distancing traffic controls in Bishop's Stortford town centre

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Controversial social distancing measures in Bishop's Stortford town centre will be removed – but Station Road changes are set to remain.

Highways authority Herts County Council says the ban on through traffic in South Street and Potter Street, the lane closure in Newtown Road and the barricade across Apton Road – brought in last year to give pedestrians more space during the height of the coronavirus pandemic – can be ditched as Covid-19 cases decrease and vaccination levels increase.

The news will be welcomed by traders like Alan and Ieva Wright, who run the Cake Box in Apton Road, where the barriers have deterred shoppers, and by householders who blame the closures for creating rat runs though residential streets.

Clockwise from top left, Station Road (set to remain), South Street (going), Apton Road (going) and Newtown Road (going) (47348254)
Clockwise from top left, Station Road (set to remain), South Street (going), Apton Road (going) and Newtown Road (going) (47348254)

However, the wider pavements and single-lane traffic in Station Road are set to remain. Previously the county council had hoped to improve pedestrian safety by building a footbridge.

The authority says it will continue to monitor the situation and residents should continue to follow the Government's 'Hands, Face, Space' public health message, but it is advising two different approaches across the county.

Highways teams have been working with councillors in five towns – Bishop's Stortford, Ware, St Albans, Knebworth and Radlett – and have agreed there are no additional benefits in keeping the bulk of restrictions.

But after support for some measures, it will be seeking further feedback about changes including Station Road. A public consultation starts on Monday (May 24) for four weeks.

Once the results have been reviewed, further changes may be made or, for some areas, the measures could remain in place for a further 18 months.

Mark Kemp, HCC's director of environment and infrastructure, said: "Our priority has been to keep Hertfordshire and our residents safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. We implemented measures to help social distancing and have supported our local businesses to open in line with Government guidance."

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