A HEREFORD councillor has said the partial closure of the Old Bridge in the city centre is a good thing for the city, despite concerns from local businesses.

A protest was held on the bridge on Wednesday morning as businesspeople voiced their concerns over the closure, which has prevented cars from crossing the river between St Martin's Street and Bridge Street.

As many as 25 local businesses have backed a petition for the council to reverse the changes, which include closures of parts of King Street, Bridge Street and Broad Street, as part of the active travel measures.


Jeremy Milln, Green Party Councillor for the Central ward, has backed the changes which were introduced to give pedestrians and cyclists the space they need to maintain social distancing and travel safely.

"The reasons that I consider this as a good idea is because whether we like it or not we are encouraged by the Government to do the social distancing measures, all local authorities are," Coun Milln said.

"That does mean we need to rethink the way we use our public realm, in other words our road space, to some extent.

"Over the last 50 years or so we have constantly assumed the car is king and have just made more and more road space for cars, but we've come to a point where we're in a climate emergency, and also a health emergency with Covid."


Buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians can still use the bridge, but there has also been a reduction in the number of car parking spaces in nearby streets.

Concerns from businesspeople have been raised after they say footfall has dropped.

"I don't want to come over as I'm not supportive of businesses, I'm very keen on supporting businesses, but businesses have got to change," Coun Milln added.

"They have got to be flexible and they've got recognise the opportunity for Hereford is as a visitor venue, as a staycationing place.

"We're going to have a lot of people who are not going to be flying abroad in future, we've seeing that already, so they're going to have their holidays in this country. I think Herefordshire is well-positioned for that."

He added: "I think it's no good any of us, businesses or otherwise, wishing it would all go away or wishing it would go back to the way it was before.

"The way it was before was actually awful. We've got this chronic congestion problem in Hereford, poor air quality and so on, and it's mainly local journeys.

"Eighty-five per cent of it is just people travelling less than three kilometres."


A former mayor of Hereford has also backed the measures, saying more people need to walk into town.

Sue Andrews, who was the city's mayor in 2001, said she walks into town from her home in Tupsley, and more people should do the same.

She said the closures around Old Bridge have given more space to pedestrians and is the only way social distancing will be maintained.

"It's a very narrow area and a lot of people now walk into town, which I'm in favour of," Mrs Andrews, 74, said.

"If you've got a couple of kids and you're walking there, how are you supposed to do social distancing?

She added: "I still don't understand why it's not good for their trade as cars don't go into shops or businesses, people do.

"The more people you've got walking by you, surely the better it is for your business?"

Herefordshire Council says it continues to welcome feedback on the temporary travel measures here.