Controversial plans to remove cars from St Andrews town centre to aid social distancing have been scrapped after a public outcry.
Traders fearing for their livelihoods after months of lockdown have persuaded Fife Council not to go ahead with the temporary closure of West Port, Church Street and Queens Gardens.
Car parking in Market Street, South Street, Bell Street and Church Street could still be impacted, however, and the local authority is expected to clarify the situation in the coming days.
The measures were part of a package of proposals made after a £2.4 million award from Sustran’s Spaces for People Programme, aimed at making streets safer for walking and cycling as lockdown eased.
A number of watered down plans will now be taken forward, including cutting back hedges and bushes and possible changes to parking, to make more space on pavements.
Deborah Wallace, manager of Rogerson Shoes in Market Street, said traders were relieved the most “restrictive” plans had been dropped.
“It’s the best news. We are delighted because long-term road closures would have affected the trade of so many town centre shops.
“It would mean people couldn’t park in these streets and there was no way it could go ahead.
“Elderly people in particular wouldn’t be able to shop if there was no on-street parking.”
St Andrews resident Penny Uprichard said the proposals would have been impossible to implement.
“Everybody is pleased the street closures are not going to go ahead. It would have made things very difficult indeed.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Jane Ann Liston said she believed the measures may have to be looked at again if the current proposals did not work.
“My understanding is they are in abeyance. We have a problem. There are far too many people walking about being far too close together.
“There are some things that have to be sorted out before we can take cars away from shopping streets, such as deliveries getting in, disabled parking and access for residents, but if we can sort these things out then it’s probably a good idea.”
Council manager John Mitchell said: “Fife Council has been working closely with the local community and stakeholders in St Andrews to develop proposals to provide greater physical space for the public and businesses within the town.
“To date, there have been three meetings of this group which have focused on reaching an agreed position on the measures to take forward.
“The proposals include measures to cut back vegetation to afford more useable space and the implementation of temporary physical measures to create greater social distancing space for the public.
“The agreed measures will be implemented as soon as possible to help support communities and businesses during this Covid-19 period.”