Town hoping to claw back thousands spent on coronavirus measures

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coronavirus cost new milton
The social distancing signs on New Milton’s Station Road put up by the town council

NEW Milton Town Council is hoping to recoup around half of the thousands of pounds it has so far spent on local measures addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

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Reviewing its spending from May and June at a recent virtual finance and general purposes committee meeting, members heard more than £20,000 had so far been pumped into signage, barriers and other means of promoting safety in the town.

As reported in the A&T, the council implemented controversial temporary road closures in the town centre on 28th June, which were designed to help social distancing and relieve traffic congestion.

These included the closure of Osborne Road at its junction with Station Road, which was lifted four weeks later following protests from several business owners who argued it was damaging trade.

But the other measures remain in place, including the closure of Station Road’s junction with Old Milton Road, allowing pedestrians to spill onto a lane of the highway from a narrow pavement.

Spending included £8,553.60 paid to New Forest Signs for Covid town centre signage, and £4,184.29 to Site Safety Ltd for road signs, sandbags and other safety measures. The council also paid £3,498.54 to Seton Health & Safety Solutions for pedestrian management barriers.

Town mayor Cllr Alvin Reid said: “The amount of money we spend on Covid schemes just shows how much we care about our town.”

Although commending the commitment to keeping the town’s residents and visitors safe, Cllr Mark Brownsea emphasised that it was a large amount of money.

In response, town clerk Graham Flexman said up to £12,000 could be claimed back from the county and district councils. He also pointed out the council was currently still within budget,

“There have been savings in other areas where other spending hasn’t been taking place as it normally would,” Mr Flexman said.

With more normal procedures resuming amid the continued easing of lockdown restrictions, members agreed any further spending should be discussed by full town council.

Cllr Geoffrey Blunden, who chairs the amenities committee, warned the council could expect losses of income from lockdown. This includes local clubs that have been unable to use council facilities.

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