Council leader backs local businesses and reopens Northgate
Traffic will once again resume on Northgate as Wakefield Council’s Leader responds to businesses and confirms the road will reopen on Friday 24 July.
Northgate has been temporarily closed to traffic since 10 July. The intention of the road closure experiment was to create a temporary pedestrianised area to support local businesses and help people get around the city centre safely, in-line with Government guidance. However, after visiting the businesses who work on Northgate, Cllr Denise Jeffery has reopened the road.
Cllr Denise Jeffery with Northgate businesses
Wakefield Council’s Leader, Cllr Jeffery said: “I have listened to our businesses and it is clear that this is not working for them. Times are tough enough for businesses at the moment and I am determined to support them – Northgate will reopen as quickly as possible.
“The temporary pedestrian area was created with the best of intention by those involved. I understand it was expected that it would take some time to get established but after talking to businesses, it is clear that demand is not yet at a level where extra space is needed, so this is not the right time or right action to take.
“Tackling the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus means taking some risks and looking at how we can approach things differently. Some ideas will work, but where they don’t we will listen and make it right. What we can’t do is sit back and hope things will get better. We need to continue to look at how we can be innovative and give new ideas a go to support our city and town centres, keep people safe and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.”
Graham Howarth, Chair of the Wakefield BID, said: “We welcome the support of the Council to build confidence in the city centre and make it as safe as possible for shoppers. Whilst we recognise the Council acted with the best of intentions, the businesses the BID represents have been clear that the closure of Northgate is not helping them at this extremely difficult time. I am pleased that the Leader of Wakefield Council has taken the views of local businesses on board and ensured the swift removal of the road closure.”
Cllr Jeffery added: “We know that some of our residents want to see more areas for pedestrians so if developing the ‘café culture’, by using spaces differently, will work elsewhere in the city, now or further down the line, we will be open and willing try again. My council remains committed to working with our businesses to do all we can to help them thrive.”
Wakefield Council’s business support team continues to work with business across the district to understand the challenges they face and provide support to help them recover and thrive. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the team has helped over 700 businesses and charities to access grants, with a total of over £63m being issued.
The Council has also launched a major campaign to boost public confidence and back businesses across the district. ‘Enjoy It. Safely Does It’, is being paid for by the Government’s European funding pot and aims to promote visits to the district’s quality and varied retail, hospitality, personal care and leisure sectors, while encouraging everyone to do it in a safe way.