Rugby has been urged to seize an opportunity to improve the town centre through pedestrianisation – or risk losing the chance forever.
That was the message from Robin Richter, the chair of Rugby First, when he met the Rugby branch of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Richter outlined plans to pedestrianise an area between North Street and Church Street in order to create a “focal point” for the town that would offer a space for civic events, de-clutter the market and make St Andrew’s Church a part of the town centre.
Richter said the opportunity may be missed if the plans were not taken up this time.
“We have been talking about this for nearly a decade and I think it’s a case of now or never,” he said.
“We are hopeful that we get a big ‘yes’from the town because we can only see positives in the scheme and, in the grand scheme of things, it is relatively inexpensive.
Simon Leech, the chair of the Rugby branch of the Chamber, said the organisation would now gauge views from its members.
He said: “The reaction from the committee was positive and, from a personal point of view, I have always been in favour of pedestrianisation.
“ We will seek the views of fellow Chamber members in Rugby before submitting a response to the consultation.”
Many in Rugby are still unconvinced the plans will make a significant improvement. Rugby Lib Dems have said: “We have serious reservations on the proposed scheme.
“We believe that spending £1m to remove one of the main arterial routes through the town just to provide a larger civic space around the clock tower, is a waste of tax payer’s money.
“It will result in severe traffic congestion and vehicle pollution on Park Road, Regent Street, Albert Street and Lawrence Sheriff Street.”