BRADFORD on Avon Town Council has voted to go it alone on making temporary improvements to roads and pavements in the town centre to improve social distancing.

At an extraordinary general meeting on Friday, councillors voted in principle to pursue a proposal to plan and cost a project to promote social distancing in the town.

The meeting was called by council leader Dom Newton, town mayor Simon McNeill-Ritchie and Liberal Democrat ward and town councillor Sarah Gibson.

Wiltshire Council says it will only pay for five social distancing schemes in local towns, including one to improve the B3108 Bath Road between Bradford on Avon and Winsley.

Cllr Newton said: "We are very pleased tonight to have gained a cross-party in-principle decision to proceed with the planned social-distancing measures for the town centre.

"A prior application for a road closure on Silver Street means that the scheme will not be able to be implemented until mid-August. However, this extra time provides the space to ensure that issues around air quality, accessibility and pedestrian safety are fully considered, alongside the pressing issue of the current public health emergency.

"It also provides for an important level of flexibility in the proposed measures, which will be monitored and kept under close scrutiny.

"By committing Town Council funds, the decision tonight gives us an autonomy that has, up to now, been elusive in previous attempts to address this central issue."

Cllr Gibson said: "Great news that at last night’s town council meeting we agreed in principle to fund the proposed traffic measures for the town centre to help social distancing."The scheme involves a temporary one-way system creating wider pavements on the town bridge, Silver Street and Market Street. It should be installed in August.

"The measures will be temporary but are an exciting step towards achieving our long-term goal of a pedestrian-friendly town centre.

"Changes in air quality, traffic speed and volume will be monitored carefully. We can assess the advantages and disadvantages of this type of scheme as we plan for the future.

"I submitted the proposal to Wiltshire Council in April and have worked closely with campaign group, Streets Ahead and Wiltshire Highways officers on the detailed design, based on my experience in urban planning.

"Changes in government funding have delayed implementation and the closure of Silver Street is necessary in July for other work to take place. The need for social distancing is ongoing and more traffic is likely when schools return in September, so the scheme is essential."