THE social distancing scheme in Bradford on Avon will be taken away as lockdown restrictions are lifted across England.

Installed by Wiltshire Council in September last year, the one-way system in the historic town has been controversial since the get-go.

It was announced on Monday, July 19 that the social distancing schemes across Wiltshire would be taken away in the coming weeks.

Bradford mayor, Sarah Gibson had called for consultation into future schemes to address traffic and air pollution in the town.

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An extraordinary meeting of Bradford town council will be held on Wednesday, July 21.

On the decision, Cllr Gibson said: “The decision of Wiltshire Council cabinet today, advised by public health Wiltshire, is to remove social distancing schemes countywide.

“They consider that there is no longer a requirement for road schemes such as ours. The temporary traffic order expires in August and with no continued requirement to social distance it has no legal basis to be extended.

“I appreciate that for some this is a relief but for others a disappointment. As the cabinet member for transport makes clear in his statement there is no option for a temporary scheme to be directly converted into a permanent scheme.

“He clearly states that any request for a permanent scheme would have to be considered once the temporary scheme has been removed.

“Attempts to maintain the temporary scheme for longer distract from the progress towards a permanent traffic solution to improve pedestrian safety and air quality and which needs to have a reduction in through traffic at its heart, which the current system does not.

“Use of the data collected this year, with additional modelling and a fully engaged consultation leading to a comprehensive design is the best way to achieve a long term solution”

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Cabinet member for transport, Mark McClelland said: “We know that some of these schemes have been well received by our communities, and we have had some requests to install them permanently, while others have proven to be more controversial.

“As the schemes were installed under temporary traffic regulation orders, any requests to make them permanent would have to be considered once the temporary schemes have been removed, and only then in close consultation with the town or parish council and with the broad support of the local community.”

The council added residents should not expect the scheme to disappear overnight but all are scheduled for removal.

Chairman of the town council’s sustainable travel committee, Tim Trimble, added: “We now need to concentrate our efforts on a durable solution to our decades' old traffic problems and I look forward to working closely with Wiltshire Council to model a number of possible scenarios based on the data collected before, during and after the social distancing scheme.

“This will allow an informed and wide-ranging public consultation later in the autumn. The Town Council will also be pursuing a variety of other measures to improve sustainable travel options, including the possibility of a new pedestrian bridge, more frequent bus services, more electric vehicle charge points and possibly a shared use ECar and EBike club. We also plan to look at extending 20mph limits over more routes in and around the town.’”