BUSINESSES in Hereford are thrilled the Old Bridge across the river Wye will reopen – but say it should be sooner than September.

Herefordshire Council said with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions nationally, it would start removing most of the active travel measures introduced to encourage walking and cycling during the pandemic.

The footway widening in High Street, Bromyard, and Broad Street and King Street in Hereford will be among the first measures to be ditched.

All temporary 20mph speed limits will go, along with Covid signs in Ross-on-Wye and Kington.

Leominster will also see the end of the Friday closure of High Street, and the extended closure time of Widemarsh Street in Hereford will be scrapped.

Then, at the end of September, Old Wye Bridge will fully reopen after 12 months of only being open for buses, taxis, bikers and walkers. The widened footpath in Bridge Street will also be removed.

The closure of Aubrey Street will remain, as will the advisory cycle lane in Ledbury Road Hereford.

Councillor John Harrington, cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, said the council had decided, after some consideration, to keep Old Bridge closed until the end of September as there had been “significant increases in walking and cycling” during the partial closure”.

But businesses want the bridge opened sooner, with Sarah-Jane Thorpe, who owns a florist in King Street, saying the closure has added to congestion on the A49 Greyfriars Bridge.

She said footfall had taken a hit as a result. She now closes her shop at 2pm due to little passing trade.

Ms Thorpe parks her van south of the river, but faces a trip of more than half an hour via the Old Bridge – a journey which used to take only 10 minutes.

School Uniform Shop owner Luke Conod, who organised a protest demanding the council reopen the bridge last August, said it would make more sense if the bridge reopened before school traffic returned.