Update on using open spaces

Like you, the Foundation is having to check daily for advice and guidance on how we play our part in containing the coronavirus. On 23 March, the Prime Minister announced new rules, enforceable by the police, to reduce day to day contact with other people.

These include staying at home and only leaving the house for one of four reasons:

  1. Shopping for basic necessities; for example, food and medicine, as infrequently as possible.
  2. One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
  3. Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  4. Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

This means we are having to change the way we operate our environment and town centre teams.  Here is a round-up of what is changing:

Open Spaces

The rules state that play areas and spaces where gatherings might be expected to take place outdoors are closed. We have temporarily closed the play areas in the Wynd and at Radwell Meadow.

As of 3 April, we have also temporarily closed the car parks at Standalone Farm, Wymondley Woods, Manor Woods and Radwell Meadow to help prevent people congregating and unnecessary travel to open spaces in line with government guidance. 

We have updated this blog to provide further clarity around the Government guidelines on the use of open spaces. These state people should 'stay local' and use open spaces 'near' to your home 'where possible'.  The message from the government is clear in asking the public to 'not travel unnecessarily'. A government statement has also advised the public against travelling 'too far' to exercise or walk pets. 

We appreciate there is a grey area around how 'near' and ‘too far’ are defined. 
Given the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, we have to put the safety of the community first.

Paths and woodland areas, as well as the Greenway, remain open and we hope you can continue to use them safely. We hope to reopen the car parks as soon as we can.

The new rules allow for open spaces to be used for exercise, just once a day – for a walk, run or cycle, on your own or with the household members you live with.

When you are outside you must comply with social distancing rules of spacing yourself at least 2 metres apart from others.

It is not possible for you to meet more than one person in an open public place or you may be dispersed. Ideally you should not meet with anyone outside of your household and you must be 2 metres apart. This is enforceable by law and you may be fined if you do not follow these rules.

The Greenway

The Greenway will remain open.

The Greenway is a wonderful open space surrounding Letchworth which you can use for your daily exercise, but you must ensure you keep a safe 2 metres minimum distance from other Greenway users. 

The Lands Trust has some tips for enjoying the outdoors in times of social distancing.

Our environment team must also observe the rules to avoid contact from other people and is now working from home. As we will not be able to manage the Greenway over the coming weeks, we would ask you to take home with you for disposal any rubbish or dog waste from your activities. This way we can help protect and keep the Greenway in the best condition for the enjoyment of others.

Town Centre Wardens

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our Wardens, Gail and Steve, will be taking a temporary break from their daily beat around Letchworth until it is safe to return.  Gail and Steve’s Twitter account is also now on hold. To many retailers and community groups, they are the face of the Foundation in the community and provide useful guidance, support and updates to the people they meet.  We will keep you posted on when they will be back – hopefully it won’t be too long.

We will keep you posted on when they will be back – hopefully it won’t be too long.

Thank you all for your understanding at this challenging time.

We will keep you updated if there are any changes. In the meantime, please keep safe and stay home.