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Parking charges for Watford Business Park dubbed 'insensitive'
Business park employees are facing a daily charge to park outside their offices in what has been described as an "insensitive and crude scheme".
The charge of £2 a day is being introduced in the Watford Business Park to prevent users of the new Cassiobridge underground station, opening nearby, from leaving their cars in the business park.
However, the station will not be ready for use until at least 2016, whereas the new charges will be brought in next year.
Improvements to bus stops, footways and the road surface will start in November, before new parking restrictions, pay and display bays are introduced in March, in order to "protect the footway and allow bus stop access".
Park ward councillor Malcolm Meerabux said he was concerned that the "insensitive and crude parking schemes" could stifle trade.
He added: "At a time when fragile businesses are struggling to survive in austerity Britain, the authorities have decided to turn the screw a little tighter on businesses and families.
"Many firms and their employees may well see our once ‘safe’ outlying business parks, with poor bus services, having their collars felt by wardens.
"We all know how businesses on our high streets are very sensitive to parking schemes and the empty shop fronts are very powerful reminders of how firms, especially the smaller specialists, can nose dive and create deserted landscapes."
According to a report, the new parking arrangements "are designed to provide good footway facilities for pedestrians and cyclists to access the area, which is currently encroached by parked vehicles.
"The improvements will also enhance the area by eliminating the possibility of all day parked vehicles and provide more flexibility for genuine business park users to access the park."
A one-way restriction will be put in place to "improve vehicle flow" and a contra-flow cycle lane along part of Greenhill Crescent will be created.
Roger Gagan, Watford Chamber of Commerce, said: "If I worked there I wouldn’t be very happy, I must confess.
"I do sympathise with people who work there because budgets are squeezed, we’re all worse off than we were five years ago. Any implementation of car parking fees is not welcome, but there may be good reasons for it.
"If it means the parking problems are less severe and that people find more sustainable methods of travelling to work then actually it’s having the right effect."
Although the council consulted local and county councillors, the police, ambulance, fire and rescue services, and Hertfordshire County Council Passenger Transport Unit, business owners on the park said they were unaware of the new scheme until the notices were put on lamp-posts.
Simon Hoggett, from the county council, said a public consultation took place in January 2013, which included sending letters to all businesses along Greenhill Crescent and Caxton Way.
Further consultation will take place before the restrictions can be made enforceable. Enquiries relating to the scheme can be emailed to email@example.com.
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