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Hertfordshire County Council launches consultation on parking crackdown in Sawbridgeworth town centre

Shopkeepers have blasted a proposal to bring in a 24-hour parking ban in parts of Sawbridgeworth town centre, with one predicting it will “annihilate” trade.

Highways authority Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) has launched a consultation for three areas in the town – Bell Street, Knight Street and small sections in Vantorts Road and The Square – with proposals to change some restrictions from ‘No parking from 8.30am to 6.30pm’ to ‘No waiting at any time’.

In the consultation document the council gives the reason for the proposed changes as “a safety priority to protect visibility and maintain the safe and free flow of vehicular traffic”.

Bell Street is one area highlighted for the changes by Herts CC. Pic: Vikki Lince.
Bell Street is one area highlighted for the changes by Herts CC. Pic: Vikki Lince.

Berrin Lee, from House of Harlequin at 17 Bell Street, said the proposal to change parking outside her shop to just past Bell Street car park and the whole length of the other side of the road, from the White Lion pub to Knight Street, would be “very destructive to the way Sawbridgeworth works”.

Currently, drivers are believed to have a five-minute grace period when parked on the single yellow line, enabling them to pop in to shops.

“I think it will annihilate trade in Sawbridgeworth – you’ll probably lose the post office,” said Berrin.

Paul Scott, from Paul Scott Jewellers in Bakers Walk, feared it would kill off the town. “It’s ridiculous. All these small towns are dying off and it would be a disaster for the small shops in Bell Street,” said Paul, who has been trading in the town for 40 years.

Unhappy Haresh Patel, from The Tuck Shop at 33 Bell Street, said the proposals were a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

However, Michael Willis, from Wiggies Barber Shop in Duckling Lane, was pleased a small section of Vantorts Road would be changed from a single yellow line between 8.30am and 6.30pm to a one-hour restriction and said the plans for the rest of the town made sense.

The proposal for Knight Street would see a section from No 45 to The Forebury changed from 8.30am to 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, to no waiting at any time. But across the road, a section outside Hailey Place would be changed from single yellow line to one-hour waiting. Further on, a section from Hailey Place to Rowan Walk would change from unrestricted parking to one-hour waiting.

The issue of parking in Bell Street was raised by town councillor Annelise Furnace last July when she called for double yellow lines at “pinchpoints” in Bell Street, highlighting safety issues.

This was rejected by the town’s business champion, Cllr Greg Rattey, who launched a furious reaction to the idea, branding it “ridiculous”.

Speaking at a meeting of Sawbridgeworth Town Council, Cllr Rattey said that it was important “we look after out businesses”.

He added: “There are some businesses that rely on people just calling in for a few minutes. I haven’t seen one accident in Bell Street in nearly half a century. It’s very easy to come up with these ideas if you don’t have friends or relatives trading in Bell Street.”

To take part in the consultation, which was launched on February 29 and closes at 11.45am on March 21, see the consultation section at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk.

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