The managing director of a bus company says floral displays at a bus stop are "hindering the recovery" of Watford High Street.

Dean Sullivan, from Sullivan Buses, says the new displays in Watford town centre at bus stop F means drivers can "no longer" pick up passengers at the stop.

He said there is "no useable stop or stand in Watford town centre" and is calling for the displays to be removed.

But Watford Bid, which introduced the new floral displays, says local bus operators will have to adapt to "new and different ways of working" to help with social distancing.

Floral displays were introduced into bus stops T and F in High Street following the coronavirus lockdown.

Mr Sullivan says that stop T is the main stop for customers returning from Watford, while stop F is used as a drop off, stand and pick up stop for services entering the town from the south.

Watford Observer:

Dean Sullivan says the displays made bus access "impossible"

After the floral displays were introduced at both stops, Mr Sullivan said he contacted both Watford Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council for them to be removed as access was "impossible".

The county council confirmed that following a phone call with Watford's council and Mr Sullivan, some of the displays have been removed from Stop F to lengthen it.

Bus stop T has also been moved to the lower end of High Street outside Savers for drop off and pick up. 

Watford Observer:

Displays were placed outside bus stop T

Part of a loading bay area in Market Street is also being removed to allow the 306, 602 and Red-rose bus services to layover.

But while Mr Sullivan supports moving bus stop T, he believes that "not much of a solution has been offered to bus stop F".

Watford Observer:

Watford Observer:

The displays outside bus stop F

He said that drivers can only drop off passengers and not pick them up from the stop, meaning buses are "unable" to return to normal services.

He said: "I am pleased to say that passengers are now starting to return to local buses. As part of the nation’s recovery the Government now require us to restore services to their pre-Covid levels.

"Clearly with no useable stop or stand in Watford we are unable to do this until these floral displays are removed.

"If we make town centres inaccessible then this will drive customers away to the detriment not only of bus operators but also the local High Street.

"In this case all bus operators want to work with the local authorities to help to encourage customers to return to High Street.

"A four foot floral display does not create additional space for social distancing and is actually hindering the recovery of High Street."

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said the floral displays "are very popular with people and add some colour and vibrancy to our town centre".

He said: "We've worked hard to ensure social distancing can take place on our High Street and have made some changes where there have been issues highlighted with us.

"I hope everyone enjoys coming to our town centre and can shop safely while supporting our local businesses, who need us now more than ever."

Maria Manion, chief executive of the Watford BID, added: "We have agreed the placement of the planters with local bus operators. As well as lifting the aesthetics of the High Street they are helping with socially distancing as they enable pedestrians to move if required into these areas and keep safe from moving vehicles.

"Road closures like the Lower High Street are always going to be difficult to manage, especially those put in place at short notice, and given the current difficult circumstances, like all businesses, the bus companies are going to have to adapt to new and different ways of working."