One-way system considered for Stevenage park in bid to enforce social distancing

Councillors will consider a new 'one-way system' at Fairlands Valley Park. Picture: Stuart Driver

Councillors will consider a new 'one-way system' at Fairlands Valley Park. Picture: Stuart Driver - Credit: Archant

A one-way system around Fairlands Valley Park is one of the measures being considered to keep Stevenage residents safe as the coronavirus lockdown is eased.

Following the government’s announcement last week, car parks have been reopened and residents are now allowed to enjoy unlimited exercise – meaning the pressures on parks and green spaces are set to increase.

Destination parks such as Fairlands Valley are expected to be particularly popular, as families look to stretch their legs beyond their own gardens.

At a meeting of the borough council’s executive on Wednesday, it emerged that a ‘one-way system’ was one of the options being considered to help residents observe social distancing.

If approved, this would mean walkers and joggers would be directed to travel around the lake in the same direction, ensuring safe distances can be maintained.

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Following the meeting, however, the council’s executive member for environment and regeneration Cllr John Gardner said the one-way system option was “low probability”.

Cllr Gardner pointed to the high number of car parks and entrances around the park that would make one-way signage difficult.

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He also said it would be to difficult to instruct visitors to walk in a particular direction, and it would not be enforceable.

Cllr Gardner argued there is already enough room on the paths for people to move aside, and he added that if “running clubs and parents with pushchairs are going to pass each other, they can just go onto the grass.”

Cllr Gardner did confirm, however, that residents should expect new signage advising visitors to observe social distancing. He hopes residents will be encouraged to take personal responsibility.

Leader of Stevenage Borough Council Sharon Taylor said the impact of the coronavirus on the leisure sector was “devastating,” and warned of “significant issues” in getting leisure facilities back up and running.

Cllr Taylor warned that many facilities will struggle to be financially viable while enforcing social distancing.

While the car parks at Fairlands Valley are now open, and golf courses have reopened in the borough, facilities such as the play areas and the outside gym remain fenced off and cannot be used.

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