From information available on the Maldon District Council website it is clear that the pedestrianisation of the High Street is intended to go ahead as part of the ‘Covid-19 Recovery Plan’.

The Government is giving financial incentives to such schemes; and the council has already earmarked £57,000, with further sizeable funding due from Essex County Council and the Traffic Management Act. Widening pavements will minimise Covid transmission, reduce pollution, and supposedly increase consumer confidence.

Over the last fortnight we have seen the Maldon Society’s detailed response to the plan, highlighting a number of potential traffic-related trouble spots. Following the recent closure of Market Hill for emergency repairs, residents all over town have spoken about unacceptable levels of congestion. There are well-placed fears that this ‘recovery’ plan will lead only to unsustainable gridlock across the area.

There are a number of significant challenges to come, including access to All Saints Church.

Funerals and weddings are a regular feature of our ministry. According to maps produced so far, traffic going to and from West Square down Gate Street would cause hold-ups near Maldon Court School and by extension obstruct easy access to the Vicarage. All Saints Church may be an imposing presence in the town centre, but we are not a museum.

We need to be able to continue our Christian service to the community without hindrance. Will a permit-system be used for everyone, including those with mobility issues, who needs immediate access to the building? Clear answers and a very efficient roll-out are going to be needed.

Not all responses to pedestrianisation need be negative: but solutions must be realistic and workable. On a purely aesthetic level the project is going to involve the intrusion of a great many signs and barriers. Will Maldon be enhanced by this revolutionary new look – or will it limp along in ugly stagnation in the face of impossible odds?

Canon Dr Graham Blyth

All Saints Ministry Team

Rennie Walk, Heybridge