PEOPLE are urged to have their say on a controversial proposal to pedestrianise chunks of a town centre – which has already received pushback from businesses.

Wantage Town Council closed the west end of the Market Place to vehicles in July using temporary road barriers and stanchion road signs, and is now is putting forward a plan for further pedestrianisation.

With the new measures, which will last for18 months, councillors are trying to encourage residents to return to the town centre while properly socially distancing.

In a plan published on Tuesday the council revealed it is now aiming to close the south side of Market Place closed to unauthorised traffic as part of greater temporary measures.

Councillor and town mayor James Sibbald alerted Wantage residents of the opportunity to comment on the consultation.

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He wrote: "Wantage Town Council has created a plan to improve on social distanced areas within the Market Place as a whole, make the area safer for the public to visit and to engage with local businesses.

"The plan, which is much more complex than just closing the Western End, involves bus services, highways, disabled parking, parking and the availability of taxis."

The council's proposal will also see two-way traffic on north side of Market Place with 20 mph speed limit, while buses and taxis will be accommodated in Eastern end of the square.

Pedestrian area will be extended to cover the highway on the southern side of Market Place from Western end to crossing by Statue and up towards the Bell Public House.

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The car park to west of the statue will also remain open and there will be no access to and from the area to Newbury Street.

Some businesses like Marmalade Cafe and 30 Something wine bar praised the temporary measures.

However, others are concerned that shoppers, unable to access the main streets, will take their money in shopping centres in neighbouring towns.

Chairman of the Wantage Chamber of Commerce James Gordon pointed out that towns including Faringdon, Didcot and Newbury are all less than 20 minutes’ drive away and all offer ‘plenty of cheap subsidised parking’ and a ‘wide range of retail opportunities’.

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Even more, he argued that the changes and particularly the lack of parking spaces in Wantage could hinder traders' recovery from the coronavirus lockdown.

Town clerk Bill Falkenau explained that the long-term aim is to seek permanent pedestrianisation of this area.

He added: "The area has been used many times for town events such as Wantage Brass and the Continental Day, and has tremendous potential for events and other uses.

"The temporary closure provides a test of the obstacles and issues that may need to be overcome to accommodate this."

To find out more about the council's proposal and make a comment visit