Businesses in Hexham have urged council chiefs to rethink a one-way traffic system which is impacting trade.

Northumberland County Council introduced the changes in August, claiming they were essential to making the town more Covid-friendly.

Hallstile Bank was closed to traffic completely, with vehicles travelling into the Market Place via Beaumont Street, and out via Market Street and Gilesgate. Earlier this month, the council tweaked the system, with a return to two-way on Beaumont Street.

But local businesses, which set up a representative group during the summer, said the move was not enough, and that the restrictions had adversely affected trade for months.

Gail List, of Petals lingerie shop on Market Place, said: “This is killing us. In July, when the shops re-opened there was a fantastic buzz in the town. That quickly changed with this traffic system.”

The traders claimed that 95 per cent of businesses in the area affected by the restrictions did not want them.

Natalie Paxton, of Paxton’s Fish and Chips in the Market Place, said: “I think the traffic restrictions put a lot of people off coming into the town centre.”

Mike Bottomly, of Compleat Interiors, on Market Street, said the system had led to an increase in traffic, and was worried about the safety of pedestrians on narrow pinch points.

A county council spokeswoman said CCTV footage had shown a reduction in speed on Market Street.

She added: “We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of these temporary measures, and any changes in circumstances, and remain open to further dialogue with all stakeholders to ensure that the measures continue to support effective social distancing; enabling people to safely visit the town centre and aiding the recovery of the local economy.”