Footpaths widened in Northampton and Kettering town centres for safer social distancing measures

Work is underway to make the footpaths in St Giles Street COVID-secure. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

Footpaths in Northampton and Ketterings’ main shopping districts have been made wider, following £351,000 of Government funding from the Active Travel Emergency Fund.

The cash is hoped to give temporary ‘quick win’ measures across the county to encourage people to cycle and walk, rather than use public transport during the coronavirus pandemic.

Work started on Friday – two months after the county council recieved the cash back in June – to widen the footways on the north side of St Giles Street in Northampton to enable social distancing, which is costing £5,700.

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On-street parking bays near the Guildhall have been suspended too. Pictures Kirsty Edmonds.

On-street parking bays on the north side of the road between Hazelwood Road and the Guildhall are being suspended so that people can walk where vehicles are normally parked.

Ramps have also been provided to help people to cross the kerbs and barriers have been installed to protect them from the moving traffic.

On August 3, bus lanes along Weedon Road and St James Road, which were currently only operating during the morning peak, were extended to operate 24 hours per day, costing £26,136.

Councillor Jason Smithers, county council cabinet member for Highways and Place, said: “We’re delighted to be able to announce the next phase of active travel schemes in the area, and we’re working closely with local businesses to help them recover, while also ensuring we maximise the benefits to cyclists and pedestrians.

“We recognise that the loss of on-street parking may be of concern to some businesses in areas of the town centre, but we’ve sought to keep this to a minimum, to help with distancing.

“Our priority in delivering these schemes is to create a safer environment both for businesses and for members of the community.”

Work is also being carried out in conjunction with Kettering Borough Council to remove a small number of parking spaces from Silver Street in Kettering, to widen the footpath and create a safer area for pedestrians, which is costing £4,310.

Parking has also been suspended in Silver Street from 7am on August 11 to allow remedial works to be carried out, including the erection of temporary barriers.

Kettering Borough Council has agreed to retain its policy of free parking in all council car parks for the summer, before being reassessed in September. This includes parking in the nearby School Lane car park.

Work is also continuing in identifying medium-term to long-term cycling and walking projects in the county, with input from the public, to secure further Government funding via the Emergency Active Travel Fund for those schemes.

Northampton Chronicle and Echo