PLANS to pedestrianise parts of Wantage are still on the table even though the temporary closure of the western end of the Market Place is scheduled to end at the start of next year.

Following 'significant' support from residents for more walking spaces, Wantage Town Council confirmed it is working to make the closure permanent with highway consultants now employed to refocus on the permanent scheme and liaise with the Oxfordshire County Council on developing proposals for it.

This work will identify what arrangements need to be made for taxis, delivery and emergency vehicles, mobility scooters/wheelchairs and disabled parking, changes to street signs and furniture, highway construction works and changes to the legal order covering the area are required.

Bill Falkenau, town clerk at the local authority, advised that this will take some months and added: "Some concerns have been expressed regarding access for emergency vehicles.

"I have asked my deputy to liaise with Oxfordshire County Council concerning this and effect any changes needed.

"This is a matter that has been considered in the past for when fairs attend.

"The proximity that emergency vehicles could get to at either the Market Place or Church Street ends is well within the distances that are viewed acceptable under Government guidelines.

"The delivery access is something that the highway consultants have been asked to give priority to.

"We will be looking at what access arrangements have been made elsewhere in Oxfordshire in similar situations."

When Wantage Town Council installed temporary road barriers and stanchion road signs at Market Place a year ago, some businesses like Marmalade Cafe and 30 Something wine bar praised the measures.

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

'Low traffic neighbourhoods’ in other parts of Oxfordshire – like the one in Cowley, which has proved greatly controversial – will serve as an example of what is deemed 'acceptable' for Wantage, according to a statement on the local authority's website published earlier this month.

It added: "In theory, it should be possible to restrict vehicle access to pedestrianised areas by signage rather than physical obstructions.

"Unfortunately, there are some who will give little regard to signage or road markings.

"Currently there is no enforcement by the police of those that disregard parking or highway regulations.

"Responsibility for parking enforcement is being migrated from the police to the county council."