Harrow Council insists barriers placed outside shops to encourage social distancing have been a positive and necessary step, despite suggestions it is “killing off” businesses.

Business owners in Honeypot Lane bemoaned the council’s decision to place pavement-widening barriers outside their shops earlier this year and have repeatedly called for them to be removed.

Ian Mandel, who runs trophy shop Awards4U, said the measures were having a detrimental impact on his and his neighbours’ income as reduced parking options meant customers were visiting less.

At a council cabinet meeting on Thursday (October 8), he said: “There’s no footfall outside our shops and there’re at least three shops on the verge of closing down.

“The pavement is already wide enough to get two people going either way, so these barriers serve no purpose whatsoever.”

He also questioned the claim that visitor numbers in the parade have increased over the past few weeks, noting CCTV images from a pharmacy there suggest otherwise.

However, Cllr Varsha Parmar, who is responsible for the environment at Harrow Council, said council officers’ surveys showed footfall has gone up and, as a result, the barriers would be retained.

“These measures were put in place following government guidance on social distancing and being safe,” she said.

“At this time, it is paramount we keep these measures in place as infection rates are on the increase in Harrow and there is a possibility of further restrictions.”