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Parking permits could damage business, warn shop owners
Shop owners and residents have that warned plans to bring controlled parking to the Callowland area of Watford will force businesses to close.
A parking survey found there was a high demand for spaces near St Albans Road, with some streets often full with cars.
Watford Borough Council is currently consulting on whether a parking permit scheme brought in during the day could help tackle the problem.
Residents, businesses and politicians have spoken out against the plans, suggesting they would drive away local business and do nothing to alleviate the parking crush, which only starts as people return home from work.
Anita Skinner, who runs Eden Hair and Beauty, said some of her clients, who may be going through chemotherapy, could be in the salon for up to six hours.
She added: "The only businesses which can get a parking permit are ones with a vehicle instrumental to the business, like a delivery service.
"All we can do is park for two hours and then move the car. If my staff and I can’t park we can’t have a business.
"We’re going to have to get everyone to park in the nearest non-permit area, buy a minibus and pick them up."
Watford Borough Council has sent out a consultation, which will end on January 31, to help it decide what action to take.
Ms Skinner said: "We have to make sure that every shop and office sends back their consultation form before January 31.
"The people who want the scheme have replied and the people who don’t want it are sitting back complacently thinking they can’t make a difference."
Anna Williams, who lives in Leavesden Road, said the problem with parking was mostly during the evening when people returned from work.
She said the proposed scheme would operate between 8am and 6.30pm, which would "help no-one and penalise everyone".
She added: "I am appalled by Watford Borough Council's proposed parking scheme in the St Albans Road area and everyone I have spoken to is also fiercely against it.
"It offers no benefits whatsoever to local residents and shops - all it will do will be to financially penalise everyone concerned as well as killing off trade in the already struggling St Albans Road.
"A parking permit does not guarantee you a parking space outside your house."
The streets surveyed included St Albans Road, Diamond Road, Shakespeare Street, Bruce Grove, Victoria Road and Sandringham Road.
Streets close to St Albans Road and the town centre, including Bruce Grove and Victoria Road, were found to be full most of the time.
This was put down to a lack of parking management in an area of high demand, combined with the area being close to the town centre and railway station,
Richard Harrington, MP for Watford, has written to Watford Borough Council chief executive Manny Lewis about the plans after receiving a petition of 260 signatures against the scheme.
He said: "I met with more than 40 businesses and local residents who communicated their deep concern about the proposals.
"The majority of residents whom I have discussed this with feel that they would be paying to park outside their homes without this actually doing anything to improve parking provision."
Mr Harrington said restricting parking spaces in the day time, when there are available spaces, would have "a seriously detrimental effect" on local business.
He added: "A number of local businesses have argued that the proposals would undoubtedly mean a loss of jobs, custom, and in all likelihood lead to permanent closure.
"Their customers are gone, and the shop closed, before parking becomes a problem in the evenings for residents."
Leggatts Ward councillor Asif Khan, who lives in Brixton Road, said: "I've studied the scheme in depth and have concluded that it will not solve the parking problems for the whole of the area.
"I’ve lived in the local area for over 30 years now and simply put there are more cars per household than before with the same number of parking spaces.
"It will have a negative impact on local businesses. Customers who park during the day in local roads will not be able so to visit local shops.
"The parking bays on St Albans Road are under-used and need to be available more freely for customers to use, perhaps 20 minutes free parking."
Councillor Iain Sharpe, cabinet member for regeneration and development, said residents had asked councillors for a solution for high levels of on-street parking in St Albans Road.
He also said the council does not make any money from residents’ parking schemes, as they cost money to implement and manage.
He added: "Although in the past some parts of Watford have joined a controlled parking zone following consultation, equally in other areas they have chosen not to do so.
"In all cases we have respected their wishes. We would not want either to impose a scheme that residents don’t support, nor for that matter to refuse one that they do."
A meeting about the scheme will be held at 7pm on Monday January 27, in Christ Church and St Marks Church Hall in St Albans Road.
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