KEEPING your distance in Swindon is set to become a bit easier after road upgrades costing £200,000 were revealed for seven areas of the town.

The changes, which could be introduced next month, target areas where walkers and cyclists currently struggle to stay a metre or more apart.

Swindon Borough Council has secured the cash as part of the government's £250m emergency active travel fund.

But not everybody is happy with the solutions – with some saying the council has been slow to act given lockdown was imposed in March.

Cabinet member for highways Maureen Penny said: “As we start to return to some semblance of normality, it’s vitally important that Swindon’s road network is able to allow people to social distance safely.

"These proposals allow for that to happen and we will work closely with key stakeholders as we proceed.

“They are still subject to consultation and we will try to make sure that nobody is adversely affected by the changes.

"We want to make sure that residents are kept as safe as they possibly can be during the recovery period.”

Labour councillor for Mannington and Western Jim Robbins has been vocal in pushing for improvements to walking and cycling routes.

He countered: “I’m shocked and disappointed that we still aren’t going to see these schemes implemented until August.

"How come other councils were implementing these schemes in April within weeks of the funding being announced? These schemes are vital to allow safe social distancing and it is beyond incompetent from the administration that residents have been waiting so long.

“There are serious questions to answer about the delays to implementing these works and why it has taken months to implement schemes that other councils managed in less than two weeks."

After asking people for their views, the council has come up with seven suggested improvements:

:: In Station Road, changing one lane to a temporary two-way cycle lane, leaving pavement space for pedestrians in between.

:: One lane of traffic will be closed to cars in Farnsby Street and Commercial Road, making a one-way cycle lane running with the traffic flow. This can then connect the Southern Flyer route on Farnsby Street to Regent Circus.

:: Two parking bays in the cycle lane in Crombey Street will be closed.

:: Space will be allocated to pedestrians in Faringdon Road between Holbrook Way and Fleet Street to Farsnby Street. The current pathway is too narrow to allow people to pass at a safe distance.

:: Advisory cycle lanes will be created in Marlborough Road in both directions between the Pipers Way and Coate roundabout junctions.

:: The surface of the Old Town railway path will be improved.

:: And so will Kingsdown Lane between Highworth Road at the South Marston Business Park and Turnpike Road in Blunsdon.

Liberal Democrat councillor Stan Pajak, who represents Eastcott, was pleased three of his suggestions made the cut.

He said: “I have campaigned on the Crombey Street bike lane for years.

"It had two parking places put into it forcing cyclists to veer into the road before returning to the bike lane – I cannot think of a more crazy thinking and incentive not to use this crucial bike lane. At long last the parking spaces are being removed.

“The railway path’s use has grown amazingly in recent years and particularly during the coronavirus crisis. Improvements to the path will be very much appreciated.”

Having secured £214,000 from the fund. Swindon council officers are currently working on a bid for a further £770,000.

If money the granted it will be used for on longer-term projects such as the town centre movement strategy and the borough-wide local cycling and walking investment plan, which is still being developed.