TRADERS in Monmouth have said they “have hope again” after Monmouthshire County Council announced a trial one-way system in the town would be scrapped.

In an attempt to lessen the risk of coronavirus transmission, the council set up a one-way system on Monnow Street in July using temporary traffic lights, and has taken away parking on either side of the road, with a temporary cycle lane put in place.

But traders say the changes have increased congestion because there is no alternative way to navigate it other than to get on to the A40.

The congestion issues have been compounded by significant roadworks taking place at Agincourt Square, and a petition was started before the council's decision to get the two-way system reinstated - gaining 938 signatures so far.

And, last week, chief executive of Monmouthshire council Paul Matthews said, after the work at the Square is finished on Monday, October 19, a two-way system on Monnow Street will return.

But he said “the future of Monnow Street will need to be considered again because the nature of successful high streets are changing”.

“Any thinking around permanent one-way traffic or pedestrianisation will need to be accompanied with wider infrastructure improvements,” he added.

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Owner of Monteas on Monnow Street David Tovey says the latest update has given him hope again.

“Because of the one-way system my footfall and turnover has dropped significantly,” he said. “In August my turnover was 38 per cent down on last year, while footfall was down 23 per cent.

“That was at a time where most towns were seeing sales and footfall hold up quite nicely.

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(Scene outside Monteas)

“The road layout does not suit people who are elderly or mobility-challenged – which makes up a good percentage of daytime shoppers here.

“The timing of the one-way system has added extra strain. I am glad the council has changed the plan, because it’s given me hope for my business again. It gives us a chance to get customers back and have a decent Christmas.”

After a car broke down on the A40 and blocked one lane on Tuesday morning last week, traders say congestion continued for more than three hours.

Owner of Harts clothing store Carol Davies said the congestion is a side effect of incorporating the A40 into the one-way system.

“Essentially it means we only have one street and there is no alternative road for drivers to nip down,” she said.


“I’ve had a lot of comments about a lack of street parking and the appearance of the bollards on the street too, which I know is putting customers off.

“It’s so important we appeal to visitors that don’t live here, who I think make up 70 per cent of customers. It needs to appeal to people, and if you can’t easily get here and park, we don’t have much chance.”

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(Carol Davies)

The challenge facing the council is to find a social distancing plan which works for traders and is safe for shoppers, but organiser of the local business forum Sam Perry says the council might be overthinking the situation.

“I’m not sure any of it was necessary,” he said. “The pavements were wide enough for social distancing as they were.

“For a one-way system or pedestrianisation to work people would have to drastically alter their habits.

“My concern is that Monmouth isn’t a city and isn’t a place that is fit for cyclists and walkers to come in and do some shopping.

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(Sam Perry)

“Most people travel here by car, and they can’t be alienated.

“I don’t think making Monnow Street one-way has made much of a positive difference to anyone other than perhaps some cafes.

“The majority of cafes are taking advantage of that and that’s great. But cafes only make up a certain number of businesses in town and people won’t come all the way to Monmouth to have a coffee.

“I wonder whether the traffic makes sitting outside a coffee shop very appealing anyway.”

Catherine Elsmoor, who runs a cafe at Salt and Pepper and has utilised the extra space outside the premises on Monnow Street, says without the changes she would have struggled.

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(Salt and Pepper)

Ms Hall has bucked the trend so much so that she has managed to add more staff during the pandemic.

“Being able to expand outdoors has been good for us with the outdoor seating, so the one-way system isn't too bad from our point of view,” she said.

“I feel we made the best of the situation and we made up for what we lost indoors, which was more than 50 per cent of our seating.

“But Monmouth has always had a traffic problem and the system has exacerbated the issue. I think the idea to allow businesses to expand outside is good, but the execution of it here is not there yet.”