Question from: County Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe Subject: The future of our town centres community
Tonight [20 June 2021], I met with Hay Town council to discuss your consultation on “The future of our town centres”. Whist jointly we understand covid19 has changed our high streets we feel that we would like clarity on this consultation: is it about covid19 or pedestrianisation of communities like Hay? Hay Town Council have tried to operate a system around covid19 restrictions and faced difficult decisions with limited information and want clear information for the public to ensure a clear and transparent consolation to ensure democracy is at the front of any decision.
Do PCC feel this is the correct time to hold this consultation whilst there is uncertainty of covid19 and changes in variants that will give people mixed messages on what this consultation is about. The Town Council and I feel this is the wrong time to do a consultation. As we have not been able to have a summer operating it would be better to hold after the summer.
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
We need to consult with the public and businesses whilst the social distancing measures are in place to gauge people’s opinions on the measures introduced and whether they would wish to see them continue once the social distancing rules are relaxed.
The pandemic has contributed to changing the high street alongside many other factors such as business rates, rents/leases, and on-line shopping. The social distancing measures put in place, have though given an insight of what could be possible within our town centres and the opportunity to see how the community may best utilise the road space available within their town that best meets their needs and to consider the previous accepted dominance of the car or look to provide a generational change that could create a safer space and more attractive street scene for visitors and shoppers.
We do however, need to consult in a fair, transparent, democratic and proportional manner, so that when the social distancing measures are relaxed, possibly during July, that we will be able to evaluate what the public and businesses would like to see going forward. This will help inform us, to know whether we remove or keep permanent proposals, similar to what has been introduced or consult further on adapting alternatives, to include a flexible hybrid approach.