As you may know we have been doing everything we can to help in the recovery of Topsham on behalf of the local businesses.
Following on from discussions at the Topsham Traders Meeting on Monday 15th June 2020 and the work we in Love Topsham have been doing regarding social distancing in town, we can now update everyone on our progress.
Our objectives has been helped enormously by Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, who has been in touch with the Director at Exeter City Council in charge of the Coronavirus Recovery Team to get some focus on the town and it’s needs. We should also recognise the efforts of Zsolt Schuller, a local resident and transport planner, and Neil Oxenbury, a local resident and highways engineer in helping to develop the social distancing plans for the town:
Extra seating in outside spaces:
– we are looking to see how we can urgently utilise outside spaces in town for the benefit of the many cafes and restaurants we have. There is a UK wide need to enable more outdoor seating during this pandemic to let people sit comfortably and eat takeaways, and as a result help eateries survive. We all value these wonderful establishments in Topsham and with the community pulling together, and taking measures, we hope we can help them stay afloat.
– in light of this, we have investigated spaces for outdoor seating and have received special council approval to put ‘community seats/ tables’ on The Quay. We will be going ahead with this asap and hope to have them in place before Saturday 27th June, the day of the Big Afternoon Tea. We are just calculating how many we can safely have at 2m social distancing, and we can always add more if needed when/ if we go down to 1m.
– the tables will be in natural wood and very similar to the integrated seating/ bench tables in use at The Lighter Inn, although a different colour.
– we are checking with St Margaret’s Church if we can put some tables in the churchyard there as well.
– Any tables will be jointly funded by Love Topsham and the DCC Councillors Fund which Cllr Leadbetter has helped with. Love Topsham funds come from our business supporters and Love Topsham Cardholders, who are mainly residents but also include a large number of local visitors.
– the tables will be for the benefit of residents and visitors and especially for those eating takeaway meals from local cafes and restaurants and we will work with The Lighter as and when it is opened, to ensure that their customers do not expand out onto these seats, which would in any event be outside of their licensed area.
Bins and litter:
– the council are aware of the litter issue from increased consumption of takeaway meals and will do their best to ensure the bins in town are emptied daily during the week, but they accept that weekends are an issue currently, which they have said they will look into.
– in the absence of anything else, we will request all takeaway establishments to ask their customers to either return any refuse to them or to take it home if the bins are full.
– whilst we have requested more bins, we have agreed that all of the takeaway establishments jointly take some responsibility to help clear up any excess rubbish left behind and bag it so that it can be collected by the council.
The Quay Car Park:
– this has been cleaned today with a view to it being opened in the immediate future,, to provide more car parking spaces close to the centre of town as normal at this time of year.
– there are now extra cycle racks in town, providing space for an extra 30 bikes, situated at the Quay, St Margaret’s Churchyard and Matthews Hall.
– we hope these will soon be properly secured and we are looking at signposting the facilities as well.
Social Distancing on the Pavements in Topsham:
– Exeter City Council are in charge of deciding on and implementing social distancing measures in town and they will direct Devon Highways to implement any measures as needed.
– there will be 2m social distancing stencils marked on the pavement asap
– there will be a consultation on the pedestrianisation of Fore Street, which the council believe to be the best thing to do given the narrow pavements in the town. They have been advised by both Cllr Leadbetter and Love Topsham that the Traders in the town do not want to do this and prefer to adopt alternate measures, and these will have to be taken into account through the process.
– until the consultation is complete then it is unlikely that other measures the Traders proposed will be implemented, such as reduced parking at the bottom end of Fore Street and warning signs for motorists and cyclists to go slowly through town.
Attracting Visitors to Topsham:
– Love Topsham have been invited onto and have been attending the Exeter Visitor Economy Recovery Group meetings, headed by the Earl of Devon on behalf of Exeter City Council.
– at Tuesday’s meeting it was agreed that any local activities such as the upcoming Big Afternoon Tea Week Sat 20th-27th June, should be for the primary benefit of local residents and is not to encourage visitors.
– it is hoped that July 4th will be when the hospitality industry can re-open but everyone is still waiting for clear government advice on this subject.
– after raising the fact that the toilets in Topsham were still closed at the Visitor Recovery Group and a subsequent appeal by Cllr Leadbetter to the leader of the council, the toilets on The Quay were re-opened earlier this week with an enhanced cleaning regime, and this includes the disabled toilets available with a Radar key.
– the toilets at Nancy Potter House are not open and we understand that at the current time, cafes and restaurants are not able to provide toilet facilities.
– we have made a request for the Rec to be re-opened with the play areas cordoned off if necessary, and this is under consideration by ECC
We hope that everyone is as pleased as we are with this progress, and hope that these changes have a positive influence on the town and it’s residents, visitors and businesses.