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Police, councils and businesses tackle Bishop's Stortford's parking paralysis

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An action plan is being formulated to ease parking problems in Bishop's Stortford in the run-up to Christmas.

Last Thursday (Nov 14), representative of East Herts district and Herts county councils met with police, the management of Jackson Square and the town's BID (Business Improvement District) manager Gina Thomas.

The summit was called after gridlock at the multi-storey paralysed the town centre on Saturday November 9. Herts County Council (HCC), the highways authority, blamed an issue with the timing of the traffic lights at the Adderley Road/The Causeway junction and sent an engineer to fix the signals last Tuesday (Nov 12).

Northgate End, Bishops Stortford. New BID Manager Gina Thomas with Chairman Karen Burton. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (21896848)
Northgate End, Bishops Stortford. New BID Manager Gina Thomas with Chairman Karen Burton. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (21896848)

One of those caught up in the chaos was disabled Much Hadham resident Carolyn Attwood, who was trapped in the car park for an hour.

She described the traffic light configuration as "madness" and said: "When I eventually got home I did ring the council to tell them what was happening at the car park and got told that they couldn't do anything and that it was always like that at Christmas time.

"I saw loads of empty parking places. That was because the people could not exit the car park, meaning no cars could enter.

Traffic mounds outside the Jackson Square car park exit. (21896890)
Traffic mounds outside the Jackson Square car park exit. (21896890)

"We've decided that we'll no longer use Bishop's Stortford as a shopping centre on a Friday or Saturday because of the situation in the car park."

This weekend passed without incident. Ms Thomas said: "The specific situation last weekend was caused by an electrical fault which affected the phasing of the traffic lights in the area. This resulted in cars not being able to exit the car park as usual and therefore ended with gridlock. East Herts Council responded at the time to manage the situation, and once the cause of the fault was identified HCC arranged the repair.

"Just like many towns, Bishop's Stortford does not have enough car park capacity at peak times. All parties are working together to look at ways this can be addressed and managed more effectively. This will involve short-, medium- and long-term aims.

"In the short term we're looking at bringing in marshals to the Jackson Square car park at peak times and improving communications between all parties should a situation occur so we can react as quickly as possible.

"We would also like to advise people to plan their shopping trips as much as possible, taking into account quieter times in the car park when it will be easier to find a space. We recommend visiting before 11am or after 3pm."

She added: "We want to assure the public the car park is being managed and monitored at all times and plans are in place to deal with any situations if they arise. All parties will meet again early in the new year to plan further."

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