PARKING bay suspensions will be lifted in Wheelock Street after council chiefs agreed social distancing could be carried out without them due to low footfall.

Cheshire East Council has written to Middlewich Town Council confirming that the parking bays will be restored on Saturday, July 4, coinciding with the next easing of lockdown restrictions.

The measure was brought in when non-essential shops reopened on June 15 as an aid to safe social distancing and to prevent a full closure of the road, which had first been suggested by CEC before it U-turned on the proposal under pressure from residents and the town council.

But businesses spoke out about the move damaging trade, and now CEC has written to Middlewich Town Council confirming it will reduce the measures 'safely without compromising social distancing'.

Lisa Benskin, town clerk, said: "The primary focus of the [town] council has been to keep people using Wheelock Street safe and enable the businesses to reopen.

Winsford Guardian:

"Following discussions between Cllr Jonathan Parry and Cheshire East Highways, in which he has communicated the feedback that has been received, I am pleased to say that CEC has reviewed the measures in place and have agreed to further reduce them."

Both Middlewich Town Council and CEC officers monitored Wheelock Street to see how well the measures were working before agreeing to restore the parking bays from Saturday.

They agreed that low footfall in Wheelock Street meant social distancing could be achieved without the restriction, but footway stickers will remain in place to remind shoppers to keep their distance.

Cllr Jonathan Parry, Labour CEC and Middlewich Town Council member, said: “This is wonderful news for our beleaguered high street.

Winsford Guardian:

"Thanks, must go to our clerk Lisa for her hard work, but also to CEC's portfolio holder for highways, Cllr Laura Crane. This is the second time in as many weeks that she has shown the good leadership to listen to Middlewich and think again about the proposals.

"In my time as a borough councillor, CEC has proved to be very amenable when it comes to ensuring Middlewich voices are heard. They are up for working with us collaboratively if it means that in the end better decisions get made."

Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton, spoke to shopkeepers last month who warned the restrictions had been hurting their business.

Adnan Ashraf of Middlewich News and Post Office told her that many customers 'are elderly or disabled and need to park close by', while Aiden Devaney of Devaney’s Butchers said the move had 'badly affected business', particularly during the recent rain.

CEC says it will continue to monitor its plans for Middlewich and other high streets across the borough as social distancing advice continues to change.