TATTON MP Esther McVey has warned council bosses that Knutsford high street looked closed for business as she criticised the removal of only a handful of the ‘unsightly barriers’ in the town.

Ms McVey wants all barriers removed and has repeatedly warned they are bad for local businesses as they reopen following the coronavirus lockdown.

She said six barriers had recently been removed, but no change was noticeable, and has written to Cheshire East Council chief executive Lorraine O’Donnell again asking her to ‘re-think the useless scheme’.

Ms McVey said: “When I received the email from the council about barriers being taken down my heart lifted, but as soon as I got to Knutsford at the weekend and saw the reality my heart sank.

“Speaking to residents and businesses no-one realised any barriers had been removed - the difference is so minimal.

“What is still very noticeable is the unsightly barriers and the problems they are causing.

“We should be encouraging people to come and support local businesses not putting barriers either physical or metaphorical in the way.”

The barriers were put in place by Cheshire East Council to support social distancing because of the narrow pavements.

Ms McVey added: “The council says it is trying to stop parked cars being on the road, fearful people might squeeze past them and not social distance and yet the barriers it is insistent on keeping are doing exactly that.

“The only difference to a car being parked there rather than the barrier is that they would serve a purpose and bring customers to the local shops.

“The barriers are unsightly, unnecessary and send out the signal the town is closed, causing unnecessary harm to the local shops and businesses.

“We need the barriers removed now not in the coming weeks or months, action is needed now to support our shop owners and businesses.”

Ms McVey said Cheshire East told her the remaining barriers were subject to regular review in collaboration with Knutsford Town, Council and alternatives would be regularly appraised.

Last month Ms McVey surveyed businesses across Knutsford about the decision to block parking spaces in the town centre. Only 17 per cent of businesses questioned thought it was a good idea and necessary.