CALLS to temporarily widen town centre pavements to improve social distancing in Cockermouth have been supported by residents.

Town councillors discussed various options at a recent online meeting. These included making Station Street one way for pedestrians and marking pavements to ensure people queuing outside shops adhered to distancing rules.

The county council has funding from the government and is looking at measures which can be put in place to help with social distancing and cycleways. Councillor Stephen Barnes had asked for two proposals to be discussed at the meeting, temporarily widening the pavement on Station Street, from the Co-op to past Firn’s, to improve social distancing. He also wanted the council to discuss a temporary pavement on South Street.

Councillor Grace Bennion said: “It’s clear walking around town and seeing people queuing outside shops that distance perception differs from person to person.

“I think the county council should mark the pavements, this would help ease the social pressures and anxiety people feel.

“The important thing is that people can walk past each other without endangering themselves. It’s so difficult for people with a buggy or wheelchair on Station Street.

“In the supermarket I have seen quite aggressive behaviour. We need to help people.”

Councillors voiced their concerns about shoppers queuing on the narrow pavements and making it impossible to socially distance without stepping on to the road.

Councillor Richard Watson said: “I think we should temporarily stop parking on the Post Office side of Station Street. By cordoning it off we would create a wider pavement.”

Mayor Julie Laidlow, who owns Firn’s Home Hardware Store, pointed out that delivery wagons can only access her shop and some others by parking in front of the premises. “I’m in favour of widening the pavement, but not for the full length of the street,” she said.

Councillor Alan Smith said: “I think in the short term we need some bollards, which could be removed for deliveries. We are in exceptional times.”

Councillor Alan Kennon suggested pedestrians go one way on Station Street.

“Then you can still have disabled parking outside the Post Office,” he said.

“I like that idea,” agreed Miss Laidlow.

Councillor David Malloy questioned how this could be enforced.

Councillors voted to put all their suggestions to the county council.

Following the meeting, one resident said: “I have two kids, one of whom has severe learning difficulties. People are queueing to get into shops on Station Street, people are also parked on double yellows, to get around people and maintain the 2m we needed on several occasions to step into the road. I say a temporary widening of the pavement with bollards, in my opinion, is an excellent idea.”

Andrew Marshall, chairman of Cockermouth and District Chamber of Trade, said: “We agree that Station Street is likely to be a bit of a pinch point in terms of social distancing as more restrictions are lifted and the town becomes busier.

“The narrow pavements will definitely be an issue for pedestrians and I would like to see additional signage at the bottom of the hill to remind drivers that there are likely to be people walking on the road.

“We will, of course, be guided by the councils’ environmental health and highways experts as to the best way to manage this.

“Though we are desperate to see Cockermouth open for business again, the safety of our locals, visitors and the people who work here has to be the priority.

“I’m sure there are ways to deal with this, whether that’s by widening the walking space with bollards, or providing passing places, or perhaps there’s another idea which hasn’t been suggested.”