Aylsham Town Council Chairman LLOYD MILLS, writing on behalf of the council, explains an important decision taken regarding the town’s Shaping the Future document.
At the beginning of this year Aylsham Town Council issued a document entitled Aylsham – Shaping the Future. The intention was for it to propose various ideas for the development of Aylsham and to encourage responses, ideas, and thoughts from residents and visitors to the town alike, via a survey.
Unfortunately, at the same time the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions were introduced by the Government.
In the summer all district councils in England were ordered by the government to help small businesses in town centres to recover and encourage customer footfall (The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund).
To this end the government gave these councils the funding to provide help in the form of making our towns safer and more pleasant places.
Broadland District Council tried to consult with shopkeepers and residents as well as the Town Council. They decided to install hand sanitisers, guidance notices, and most controversially, barriers on some of our roads. It is generally acknowledged now that the barriers were unsightly and unhelpful.
Traffic flow changes also provoked strong and differing opinions. However, it is worth saying that the initial plans would have led to the closure of Penfold Street, the Market Place, and Red Lion Street to traffic. The Town Council argued vehemently against this and a compromise was arrived at with full support of the Highways Department of Norfolk County Council. This is what you see now.
In 2019 the Town Council had already agreed with the Highways Department to install a pavement on Penfold Street, from the old Post Office yard round to Cawston Road, and to introduce a pinchpoint where incoming traffic would need to give way to outward bound traffic. This scheme will still go ahead.
These three disparate actions (document, survey, Covid-19 responses) became entangled with each other in many peoples’ minds. Some felt Shaping Aylsham’s Future was directing the reader to certain conclusions and the questions in the survey did the same. Some suspected the Covid-19 changes were being deliberately installed to trial permanent road changes.
And it seems that no matter how hard these ideas were denied and corrected by the Town Council they persisted.
Therefore, to try and clarify the situation the Town Council has called a halt to further publication of the document and is withdrawing the survey. They will review these items over the coming months and hope to reactivate them in a new guise when the country has dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the meantime the Town Council understands that Broadland District Council are planning to continue their attempts to invigorate the town centre. We have asked our district councillors what is happening but it appears this is being driven by officers, so the Town Council is contacting the District Council to ascertain exactly what they intend to do to our town. As soon as we know we will inform you.