Harpenden residents anger at parking problems

Annoyed locals claim council is unnecessarily restricting street parking in Harpenden’s town centre.

HARPENDEN residents have criticised the district council for a decade-long “bureaucratic inertia” over street parking which has resulted in wardens allegedly turning a blind eye to selfish parking by some motorists.

Tom Coulter, of Milton Road, and Jim McArdle, of Medlows, contacted the Herts Advertiser to publicise problems local residents were encountering when visiting the town.

They said that street parking was being unnecessarily restricted on some roads and abused on others.

Tom and Jim said there was a parking bay suitable for four vehicles adjacent to the Harpenden Arms which was subject to a single 8am-6pm restriction but there was no obvious reason why the restriction at a former bus stop should be applied.

The issue was already under review at Harpenden and St Albans councils but, they maintained, due to the bureaucracy involved it was taking far too long.

They also pointed to what they described as a “crazy” situation in Church Green where opposite the Peking Duck restaurant was a parking bay with a single line without any restriction notice.

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The men claimed local business people took advantage of the situation and either a restriction notice should be put in place or the parking bay capacity increased.

Jim and Tom said that there was scope for increasing short-term parking by preventing or reducing the abuse of parking restrictions in the town centre and in particular on the High Street, describing some estate agents as the worst offenders.

They maintained it was quite normal for the culprits to park for extended periods and only move their vehicles when a traffic warden appeared but those people were virtually impossible to catch because they saw the warden from their premises and moved before a ticket could be issued.

District and town councillor Mike Weaver said he understood the men’s frustration at seeing shop owners constantly getting away with flouting restrictions.

He said: “It is so short-sighted that shop owners, estate agents and the like park all day outside their premises. That keeps potential High Street shoppers away.

Cllr Weaver said that he, town clerk John Bagshaw and district council parking contract manager, Steve Deakin, met last week to discuss the issue, including the possibility of gaining a few extra spaces close to the Harpenden Arms.

He went on: “At the end of the day it comes down to High Street business owners just ‘playing the game’ and simply respecting a community spirit and observing the regulations so that a wider group of shop users can benefit.

“The alternative if the misuse gets worse and worse would be the introduction of pay and display machines. This would undoubtedly free up a lot more parking spaces but would be at a heavy environmental cost.”