One of West Cornwall’s most popular attractions – Hayle’s 1km long King George V Memorial Walk – could temporarily close to road vehicles to help people enjoy the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic if proposals brought by Hayle Town Council are approved.
The walk, which hosts stunning sub-tropical gardens and borders Copperhouse Pool, has always been popular with walkers, cyclists and equestrians, but the need for social distancing has meant increasing numbers of these people using the highway, bringing them into conflict with motorists who use the walk as a short-cut to and from the Foundry area of Hayle. This has been made worse by collapses of the cliff onto parts of the footpath, forcing pedestrians onto the highway and limiting the ability of cars to pass each other safely. To reduce the risk of vulnerable road users being killed or injured, Hayle Town Council recently voted to apply to temporarily close the road to through traffic for six months. It has been closed to through traffic on Sundays since 2012.
Mayor Clive Polkinghorne said: “Throughout 2020 I have received many messages from users of the walk calling for traffic to be restricted on safety grounds. Our aim with this temporary closure is to protect all users – whether in vehicles or on foot – from the awful effects of an accident which seems more likely to happen now than ever before.
“We fully believe that this decision is in the best interests of the overwhelming majority of users of King George V Memorial Walk, and that it will ultimately prove highly popular.”
Councillor Andrew Roden, who proposed the measure and who is a regular user of the walk said: “King George V Memorial Walk is rightly known as the jewel in Hayle’s crown and draws visitors from far and wide. It is now more popular than ever – and unfortunately, that brings vulnerable users including many young children with their parents into close proximity to motorists in order to maintain social distancing.
“The need for exercise and to spend time outdoors is greater than it ever has been with the COVID-19 pandemic, and this temporary closure to through traffic will mean the people of Hayle and beyond will have a level, evenly surfaced and absolutely beautiful location to enjoy safely.”
Councillor Roden acknowledged the concerns of motorists who currently use the road, saying: “We are very aware that some motorists legally and legitimately use King George V Memorial Walk as a through route, but it is to protect those vulnerable users and those motorists themselves that Hayle Town Council voted to approve the temporary closure. There are easy alternatives to driving along King George V Memorial Walk that will not incur more than a marginal increase in journey time.
The closure will be reviewed before the end of the six-month period, and any next steps discussed in full council.
What is being proposed?
A temporary closure of King George V Memorial Walk to through vehicular traffic has been proposed and passed by Hayle Town Council under emergency COVID-19 legislation. The closure will last for six months and be reviewed before the end of that period.
Why is it being proposed?
Because of the need for social distancing to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic, pedestrians are unable to use the narrow footpath and are being forced onto the highway – especially in areas where the sandy cliff has collapsed onto the footpath. Most users are pedestrians, cyclists, scooterists, skateboarders and horse riders, with relatively fewer motorists using it as a through route. At a time when there are many restrictions on activities – whether locked down or otherwise – King George V Memorial Walk provides a vital open space for exercise and leisure that is level and evenly surfaced. It is unique in the area and draws visitors from as far away as Redruth, Helston, Penzance and beyond.
However, the combination of pedestrians, cyclists and other users (including the very young and very old) brings them into conflict with motorists who on Mondays to Saturdays are entitled to use King George V Memorial Walk as a through road. A number of near-misses between motorists and other users have occurred, and with growing numbers of pedestrians using the highway, the conflict between users is growing. Temporary closure as a through road will eliminate that conflict and slash the risk of serious injury or worse to King George V Memorial Walk’s most vulnerable users.
What traffic will be able to use King George V Memorial Walk?
Access to properties on KGV Memorial Walk will be retained, and for those with business on it, such as Hayle Town Council, Cormac, utilities and emergency services. All other through traffic will be prohibited.
What about people who park along King George V Memorial Walk to enjoy the view?
The swimming pool car park affords both a good view and outdoor seating, and there is limited parking at the Eastern end of King George V Memorial Walk.
What alternative routes are available for motorists?
In terms of vehicular traffic, King George V Memorial Walk is primarily used by motorists travelling to or from Phillack to avoid roads going through Hayle and access the western end of Hayle at Foundry. There is easy access to and from Phillack via the junction by the playing fields opposite the Texaco garage. With the combination of existing speed bumps and high numbers of pedestrians on the highway there is unlikely to be any significant journey time penalty.
Will there be statutory consultation on this?
No statutory consultation is planned as this is an EMERGENCY and temporary closure. Should there be a move to make closure to through traffic permanent, then consultation will take place.
Will the closure continue beyond six months?
The resolution passed by Hayle Town Council was to review the impact of the closure before the end of the six-month period before deciding on future actions.
How do I comment on this?
Please send all correspondence to the Town Clerk, Hayle Town Council, Hayle Community Centre, 58 Queensway, Hayle TR27 4NX, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.