benches in town square in nantwich

Councillors could be forced to remove town centre benches in Nantwich amid fears too many people are not following Covid lockdown guidelines.

The concerns were discussed tonight (January 14) by Nantwich Town Council, after residents and traders raised fears about lack of social distancing.

There have been reports of “hundreds” of people in the town square on some days, with benches often a hub for people gathering together.

Councillors discussed a number of plans, including removing all the benches completely.

But they said local police objected to this, as did some councillors.

Town clerk Samantha Roberts said: “Residents and traders are concerned at the lack of social distancing, and that benches can be cause of this.

“Police said they will be increasing their visibility in the town centre, but officers did not support the removal of benches and said it could even exacerbate the problems.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently clarified guidance, saying walking into town to buy a coffee and hanging around to drink it is not permitted under current national lockdown measures.

Councillors agreed that more warning signs were needed on and around benches in the town square.

Cllr Andrew Martin said: “I support the retention of benches but with warning signs.

“There are many older people in the town who need the benches to sit down. We don’t want to completely remove them.”

Cllr Arthur Moran added: “We have to be seen to be doing something. I’ve had numerous emails about concerns.

“On some occasions there were hundreds of people on the square, not just on benches but sitting on TSB steps, around the War Memorial.

“We’re in a lockdown. You can exercise, shop for food, go to medical appointments – not to go in for a coffee and to gather and chat.”

Cllr Stuart Bostock said: “If we do have to remove the benches, maybe we can remove some initially and see if that helps.

“You walk across the town square at 2pm on Saturday afternoon and it’s like a beer garden!

“I saw about 18 people gathered around three benches, including cyclists, just talking to people. It will be nice to see the police turn up for a change.”

Cllr Stephanie Wedgwood said: “There also has to be an onus on public responsibility here.

“Signs are good but we need them to realise we are thinking about their health and put the onus on them to do the right thing.”

Ms Roberts added: “The local police have been very responsive to our concerns.”

Councillors agreed to install some warning signs on and around benches to begin with, and if problems persist will look to remove some benches.

(Library image for display only, taken before Covid lockdown)

7 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Walked through Nantwich centre yesterday and it was crowded!? All of the benches being used with very little to suggest any compliance with social distancing. I was shocked and dismayed, obviously there is no COVID-19 virus in Nantwich?????

  2. JM says:

    Today Saturday 16th Just as bad as all the other Saturdays & days in the week , Do people not watch the news the new strain of Covid is spreading rapidly but drinking ,eating , chatting is far more important.
    It’s very simple but some aren’t just getting it so the only answer is to get tough with them by moving these clowns on / closing shops as Carl quite rightly points out on one of the comments .
    Fence off the benches & have Covid marshals on duty every day to stop this stupidity it’s not as if all the food & drink items are cheap have you seen the prices ?????
    Perhaps consultants & critical care nursing staff should be present in the square & lake to try & educate some of the public who seem to be totally oblivious as to what’s happening in the world .
    Cheshire East ,Town Council, Police where are you ?This must stop .

  3. Stephen Gaskell says:

    Just as bad around the carpark by the lake , hundreds of vehicles a day using it and the coffee bar

  4. Lesley says:

    Just put yellow tape across them. People will obey that..cheaper and better option

    • Carl says:

      Somehow I doubt a piece of yellow tape will deter the people already flouting the lockdown rules by gathering en masse in a public space.

      What would be a better idea would be to enforce the rules properly and make the shops that should be closed but now suddenly are serving takeaway tea & coffee actually close. The only reason people are gathering on the square is because now we have book shops & clothes shops all selling food & drink.

      The police are fast enough to issue FPNs to members of the public who they deem to be breaching the rules yet they totally ignore the fact all the business owners have suddenly diverted to refreshments in order to stay open at a time when we’ve all been told to stay at home.

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