Maintaining a pleasurable and interesting shopping experience in Ringwood has always been a desire of Ringwood Town Council and its councillors.

The Covid-19 pandemic related issues have dealt a blow to retailers and shoppers alike. Although restrictions are easing, there is still the need to maintain social distancing and safe shopping.

With this in mind, the Policy & Finance Committee has requested financial support from New Forest District Council, which has been allocated money under the Government ‘Reopening High Streets Safely Fund’.

The requested cash would be used to temporarily restrict traffic flow along the High Street between Fridays Cross and Market Place and provide ‘Be Alert’ packs for businesses in the area.

The ‘Be Alert’ packs containing signage, tape, sanitizing gel and other things will help businesses to reopen safely and inform their customers of new procedures.

If the request for funding is turned down, District Councillors on the Committee have said they would use their Councillor Grant funds to support this part of the scheme.

These packs will be available on a first come, first serve basis. To get one for your business, send a request by email to town.council@ringwood.gov.uk.

The temporary traffic restriction plans would see the High Street restricted to a single carriageway, controlled by traffic lights and manned by volunteers from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday.

This allows the pedestrian space to increase beyond the current pavement area and thereby assist shoppers to safely distance from each other.

The traffic flow would be further reduced by shutting access to the A31 from West Street, which is planned anyway as part of the A31 improvement scheme.

Apart from funding, support from Hampshire County Council, including risk assessments, will be needed.

The plans are agile so that improvements to the scheme can be implemented quickly and adjusted as circumstances change.

Tony Ring, Ringwood Town Mayor, said “I would welcome support from New Forest District Council and Hampshire County Council in helping Ringwood High Street return from Covid as a vibrant centre for local shoppers and visitors.

Securing the requested funds will greatly help in that regard”.