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Car park chaos in Bishop's Stortford prompts talks between traders, police and council

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An emergency meeting was held on Thursday (November 14) to try to prevent a repeat of the car park gridlock which paralysed Bishop's Stortford town centre again.

Some drivers complained they were trapped last weekend in the 706-space Jackson Square multi-storey, which is owned by East Herts Council, for an hour or more in what is becoming a regular Saturday snarl-up.

Ensuring a smooth traffic flow in and around the town's ten council car parks is one of the priorities highlighted by the Bishop's Stortford BID (Business Improvement District) board to encourage residents to choose the high street rather than the internet for their Christmas present shopping.

Traffic mounds outside the Jackson Square car park exit. (21458917)
Traffic mounds outside the Jackson Square car park exit. (21458917)

BID manager Gina Thomas was due to be talking to police and the district council on Thursday about the ongoing Jackson Square disruption.

She said: "The parking problems over the weekend are unacceptable for all, both shoppers and retailers. Parking and accessibility to the town is one of the main areas of focus for the BID and, as such, discussions are already ongoing with East Herts about a number of initiatives.

"We take what happened last weekend very seriously and, as such, have arranged to meet with East Herts Council and the police this week to discuss how to manage the situation in the coming weeks. The BID is working hard to promote the town and we want to ensure it is accessible and open to all."

Jackson Square, Bishops Stortford. New Manager Michael Smith. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (21459186)
Jackson Square, Bishops Stortford. New Manager Michael Smith. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (21459186)

That view was shared by Michael Smith, manager of Jackson Square. He said: "We share our guests' and visitors' frustrations with the continued traffic issues experienced in the town and the multi-storey car park.

"The impact this has on the centre and the town as a whole is significant, particularly at this time of year, when our retailers are relying on a successful trading period within an already competitive and challenging market.

"We will continue to work with our local and key stakeholders and support their efforts, wherever we are able, in trying to improve the situation in both the short and long term."

A spokeswoman for East Herts Council said: "We are aware that there have been problems recently with traffic exiting the Jackson Square car park. We have noted an increase in the use of the car park, which is likely to be due to the run-up to Christmas.

"There is an issue with a faulty sensor meaning the phasing of the lights outside the car park is not working correctly. This has been reported to highways at Hertfordshire County Council."

The county council has also been asked to comment.

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