St Peter’s Arcade in Peterborough city centre to re-open
St Peter’s Arcade in Peterborough is to re-open in a major boost for people with limited mobility.
The popular walkway between Bridge Street and St Peter’s Road at the back of the Town Hall has been closed during the pandemic due to the need to maintain social distancing.
However, an earlier announcement by the city council that the gateway was unlikely to ever re-open produced an outcry, particularly among people with disabilities who faced a much longer journey from Car Haven Car Park into the main shopping areas.
Car Haven is an important place for the disability community as there are Blue Badge parking spaces, as well as the city centre’s only fully accessible toilets.
Moreover, building works in Bridge Street meant that people walking on the pavement by Bourges Boulevard (the alternative route to using the arcade) actually had less space to utilise, making social distancing virtually impossible.
Announcing the U-turn in his weekly Peterborough Telegraph column, the new leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald wrote: “It’s been a busy first week in my new role as council leader and I am already making good on the first of my election promises.
“By this weekend St Peter’s Arcade in the city centre should be open once again.
“I had promised that, subject to all the necessary health and safety checks, this would be done as soon as possible.
“So, barring any last-minute hitches, this will be done and the benefits to everyone will be obvious, particularly for people with limited mobility who told us how difficult it was for them when we had to close it during the pandemic.”
Cllr Fitzgerald has since confirmed that the re-opening will be permanent “if I have anything to do with it”.
This marked a change in tone from cabinet member Cllr Marco Cereste who had previously highlighted the ‘benefits’ of keeping St Peter’s Arcade closed permanently, which he said included encouraging more people to shop at the bottom end of Bridge Street.
However, disability campaigners had insisted that closing the walkway was having a detrimental effect on people with additional needs as it was making it much longer (and harder) to get around the city centre.
This in turn was said to be deterring many people from travelling in.