TWO streets in Devizes are being used to test 'pavement distancing' measures as lockdown lifts and more shops open.

But the move has got the Town Council scratching its head as it wasn’t consulted – and cab drivers up in arms as they have lost five taxi rank bays.

Devizes was picked as a trial run for the scheme, with an area running around from the market square around the HSBC corner being widened with the use of crowd barriers, signs and road posts.

The measures, on Wine Street and Saint John’s Street have been put in place by Wiltshire Council, which is set to receive £227,000 of government funding to support creating a safe environment for walking and cycling.

In addition, the council has been awarded £449,000 to support the safe reopening of high streets across Wiltshire.

Town councillor Nigel Carter was bemused as to why no one from the council had been in touch, but said: “I think in these difficult times, measures to help keep us all safe must be welcomed.

“We do not know how long these temporary measure will last, and maybe they will become permanent in time.

"We shall have to see how it goes. I am not against the idea at all,” he added. “It will be a balance of parking versus pavement space.”

Shoppers venturing into town and using the corner seemed to embrace the change.

“It gives us plenty of room,” said Helen Geary who had popped in to town to use the chemist on The Brittox, which joins up to the new distancing pavement areas. “It will be interesting to see if this happens in other parts of the town centre too.”

But the cab drivers bumped out of their usual spot and on to double-yellow lines were less sanguine.

Christian Lee George of Devizes Taxis said: “I think the measures are all right but it is a knee-jerk reaction. It needed to be thought out better. They could have given us other places to park up. There’s a rank here that used to sit six cars, and now it sits one.

“Business is picking up certainly with schools coming back now. They could make a taxi rank behind us on the other side of the market – it’s not rocket science is it.”

Wiltshire Council said that due to the need for speed there was not time to undertake extensive consultations. It said the site was chosen because of the banks and likelihood of people queuing and availability of road space.

Council leader Cllr Philip Whitehead said: “Some measures will be easier to implement such as pavement stickers outside shops and others will take a bit longer as we reconfigure pavements.

"We will work with key partners to ensure there is local support for any scheme that is progressed.”