TOWNS across south Oxfordshire are considering pedestrianising high streets to help lift the lockdown.

Closing town centre roads to vehicles could support traders when the reopening of high street shops is allowed.

Pedestrianised roads could give traders the option to create more space for shoppers by bringing stalls onto the roads.

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Councils are also looking into road closures as it will in turn help reduce vehicle emissions and give pedestrians and cyclists more space.

Wallingford Town Council is currently asking small shops and businesses if they would be in support of the proposed street closures of Both St Mary’s and St Martin’s streets.

Mayor Lee Upcraft said: “We have a lot of small shops in Wallingford and it is going to be very difficult for them to operate with social distancing, so we are considering giving people much more space and reducing the traffic to the market place so they can use the road surface.

"We might work with traders and county council to let them put stalls on the pavements.”

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Mr Upcraft added: “I think it could be a positive thing if it is done right.

"I think the trick is to make sure we make the whole area attractive for residents and visitors and find a way that works for the traders.

"I do not want to restrict visitors coming into town, I do not want to make it harder for them to go to the shops, so at this point we are only considering a limited closure to help the traders.”

Abingdon Town Council is also looking at the possibility of road closures to ease lockdown and create more space for shoppers.

Councillor Neil Fawcett said: “We are looking at a number of options, although it is harder to close much of the town centre completely due to the layout.

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"We are looking at ways to increase space for walking and cycling and to reduce the level and speed of traffic.”

Wantage does not have any definite plans yet but said it was a possibility.

Town council clerk Bill Falkenau said: “It is something that may come up for consideration in the coming weeks.”

The town councils do not have the final decision and will have to get final permission from Oxfordshire County Council.

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Fortunately for proponents, the county council is also looking to reduce traffic to support social distancing with the bonus of reducing vehicle emissions.

A spokesperson said: “Oxfordshire County Council is keen to exploit the opportunities for encouraging people to return to work safely without having to depend on their cars especially as public transport capacity will, at least initially, be under strain.

"The council is working with its partners in developing transport responses in anticipation of the lockdown restrictions beginning to ease and in line with government guidance.

“In particular we are actively exploring ways to maintain current lower levels of traffic wherever possible. We want to lock in the benefits we have had recently in terms of improved air quality and lower emissions.

"These measures will also need to support social distancing and economic recovery and will require careful consideration against the council’s priorities and resources.”

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Wallingford Town Council is looking to close the roads from June 1 and possibly continue to pedestrianise the area in the future.

Mr Upcraft added: “There is lots of advice from government at the minute to try and make things happen, I have seen stories about trying to do this in London.

"I would hope we can work with county council, if we decide to do this, then we can have it in place for June 1 when we have been advised that most shops can re-open. I think it will be a nice thing to have in place for the summer.”

He added: “It also informs something long term if we want to do something along the lines of shared streets.

"Pedestrianisation is an aspiration for some of the community and it is an aspiration in our neighbourhood plan as well.

"This is the opportunity to test it and see if it works.”