Calls to permanently pedestrianise Leamington’s Parade have been backed by district councillors who are calling on their town council and county council colleagues to work together on making it happen.
Bar owner Gareth Dore presented a petition to yesterday's (Wednesday's) full council meeting of Warwick District Council which said a ban on transport along the road would boost tourism and help the town’s independent retailers. The route had been closed to vehicles for much of the pandemic.
It added: “Opportunity for al fresco dining and independent market stalls would maximise touristic appeal and thus increase economic growth of our beautiful town, as well as increasing air quality and encouraging more climate friendly ways of living.”
Speaking at the council meeting, Mr Dore, who owns the Cellar Club on the Parade, said: “Town centres will need to be increasingly innovative with a look to the future. No longer will it be the big stores and chains - they are moving out of town and, even moreso, going online. So what we are left with are the hospitality, service and tourist industries and the independents of which Leamington Spa is blessed with many great businesses.
“Opening up the Parade has given us a huge boost to our income and taking this away for the summer months has already started to hit us hard again with some people still too scared to come inside. This problem will not go away quickly and it would be less of a problem with a pedestrianised Parade.
“It’s time now to plan for the future before it’s too late. In three, four or five years time we will run the risk of having very few shops in the centre and it turning into a ghost town. If we act now we can save our wonderful town that we all love very much.”
Councillors voted to refer the petition together with their views on pedestrianisation to Warwickshire County Council who, as the highways authority, would have the final say.
Leader Cllr Andrew Day (Con, Bishop’s Tachbrook) said: “I recognise that it is not within our gift to open the Parade, close the Parade, paint it pink or gold or any other colour that takes our fancy. The point is, it is the debate we need to have for the whole of Leamington Spa.
“We have a really vibrant community here of independent shops and residents. This isn’t anywhere, this is Royal Leamington Spa and it deserves proper and thorough treatment by all three levels of local government.”
Concerns about keeping the Parade accessible to everyone and being careful not to force traffic onto neighbouring residential roads were raised by other councillors but they were unanimous in their support of the proposal.