Smoke free plans for full urban shopping zone in Barnsley

Health officials are to investigate introducing a smoke free zone across a whole shopping district in a move which could be the first of its type in the country, if it was given approval.

Barnsley Council already has smoke free zones around play areas and some zones in the town centre, but public health officials are now to look at similar measures in one of the borough’s ‘principal towns’, the larger communities beyond the town centre.

Wombwell has been suggested as a possible target, where the whole of the High Street – essentially the town’s full shopping area – could be designated a smoke free zone.

It would not be a legally enforceable restriction and would only be introduced if it could be demonstrated the majority of residents and businesses were in favour of the move.

But some councillors have voiced concerns that it could harm businesses which are already struggling in the area, with Coun Dick Wraith telling a meeting of Barnsley Council’s South Area Council: “We have to be careful that we don’t drive people away.

“We are struggling in Wombwell to get traders into the area. We have plenty of tattoo shops and barbers, but Poundstretcher is moving out and the Burton building is empty. We don’t have the mix we used to have.”

Coun Chris Lamb suggested another area may be more appropriate, telling the meeting: “If local elected members have reservations, we have to be very careful about pushing things there. There may be other areas which are more suited.”

Councillors have now requested a further report on the idea, which is expected to be finished in time for the SAC’s next meeting in October.

SAC chairman Coun Mick Stowe said suggested a focused report on “What the intention is and how we could get to where we want to be. It will give elected members an opportunity to think it through.”

Coun Robin Franklin said: “Sometimes you have to be brave enough to try it out. I think Hoyland is a smaller and more do-able area.”