After the chaos in Church Stretton on Bank Holiday Monday, when residential streets were blocked to emergency vehicles, I consulted with my Town Councillor colleagues and this weekend implemented the option most favoured by them, should it prove necessary.
Extra Patrols and Parking enforcement
In four days, I brought together the combined efforts of the local police to undertake extra patrols, additional attendance by the parking enforcement officers of Shropshire Council, asked the schools and Leisure Centre to open their car parks and prevailed on the National Trust to allow more cars into Cardingmill Valley. None of that was sufficient to contain the more than 1,000 cars which flooded into the town this Saturday.
Overflow Car Park
That is why a few volunteers, my wife and I have chosen to put ourselves at risk of Covid-19 infection in an attempt to reduce the risk to the wider community. We are marshalling a hastily arranged overflow car park on a playing field, of which Town Councillors are the responsible Trustees. I hope and pray that, by removing over 400 cars from residential streets, our community will be spared any re-infection.
I agree with the majority local opinion that this small rural community, with a high elderly population, has been put at unacceptable risk by ill-thought-out government policy on easing the lock-down. Unlike Wales, England has allowed unlimited travel, when only a few countryside sites are allowed to be only partially open. Given the pent-up public demand, after eight weeks of lock-down, it is entirely predictable that over 1,000 cars would flood into the town – an outcome that the Town Council is entirely powerless to prevent.
Friendly and Welcoming
In normal times, Church Stretton is a friendly and welcoming historic market town in a beautiful setting. When times return to the “new normal”, we will be pleased to welcome back those visitors who have, perhaps for the first time this weekend, discovered this magic setting. When our range of independent speciality shops are once more able to open, we will be delighted to see our visitors return to help keep our town centre thriving.
Church Stretton Town Mayor: Cllr. Bob Welch