THE temporary pedestrianisation of Shaftesbury’s High Street has been extended with the potential to be in force until November.

As previously reported, from June 15 the area between Angel Square and The Grosvenor Arms has been void of traffic between 9am and 4pm every day. This was planned to end on Sunday.

Heard at a town council meeting Monday night, it was approved to extend the scheme once more, in line with the Government’s plan to lift social distancing measures in the winter.

It was agreed £13,000 would be allocated to the project, which would also cover marketing costs to support the hospitality sector.

According to Councillor Piers Brown, 80 per cent of High Street businesses were in favour of the pedestrianisation, as a means to “allow social distancing, maintain public safety and to reassure consumer confidence that it is safe to come out and shop again”.

Cllr Brown added that the scheme had been praised by Dorset Council as “innovative and forward thinking”.

A survey on the Shaftesbury Town Council website received 1,060 responses, and of those 86 per cent was very confident or confident about the car-free zone.

Majority of councillors supported the motion, with Cllr Alex Chase adding: “I think this is a fantastic idea that we absolutely do need to continue with, as demonstrated by the wealth of evidence gathered.”

It was agreed by several councillors however that parking, both in general and for blue badge holders, was a concern that needed to be addressed, as well as the opening hours of several shops reflecting pedestrianisation hours.

Cllr Karen Tippins said the current scheme “discriminates seriously” against blue badge holders, and pedestrianisation should be relaxed to days when the High Street is busy.

She suggested the car-free rule be in force from 9am until 3pm and should not run on Sundays.

Not running on Sundays was backed by Cllr Derek Beer, who added: “Having lived on the High Street for 44-and-a-half years, it’s really lovely to see people walking as a family, talking to each other not in single-file and the quality of life has much improved.”

Cllr Peter Yeo said the scheme should be stopped “as soon as possible”, adding: “We’re at the stage now where people have to wear face masks to go shopping so we should do everything to return to normality – freedom of buses, freedom of cars [and] freedom of disabled parking.”

The extension was supported by five councillors.