Lorry damage hits traders in pockets
PUBLISHED: 08:05 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:05 05 December 2019
Small business owners on a historic street in St Albans have joined forces to tackle the property damage, congestion and pollution caused by large vehicles.
George Street traders claim lorries and school buses mounting the pavement on the narrow road have caused thousands of pounds of damage this year alone.
Dylan's at the King's Arms has had to frequently replace their sign, at a cost of £300 each time, and the grate on the pavement above their cellar caved in due to the pressure and has now had to be bolted shut.
Owner Sean Hughes said the cellar door would cost £8,000 to £10,000 to replace, as current safety standards mandate that pubs' cellar doors must be hydraulically operated. As long as heavy vehicles continue to mount the pavement, Sean said he will not fork out such a large sum only to have it crushed again later.
Sean said: "This street is an important, independent shopping street with restaurants and bars and it is being destroyed by large vehicles mounting kerbs, smashing into signs and we worry that one day this will be a person. No change is not an option here.
"The street is polluted and quite frankly, dangerous and we owe it to residents, visitors and those with businesses on the street to find an urgent solution before there is a serious accident."
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Bridal shop Cerimonia has also suffered damage. The owners of the Grade II listed building had to pay £1,000 to replace its sign, which crashed down onto the pavement when it was hit by a lorry earlier in November.
In addition to these problems, Hertfordshire County Council has also banned businesses from putting up Christmas lights and bunting in case they catch on taller vehicles.
Jeweller Chris Wharton said this has resulted in lost revenue over the past few Christmases. "George Street could be the little Bond Street of St Albans," he said.
Pollution from the traffic means Wharton's jewellery store has to get its windows cleaned every two days, and Dylan's needs to get the entire exterior of the building washed once a week.
St Albans School say using buses to transport pupils is actually helping the environment, and they regularly reassess the impact they are having.
A spokesperson for the school said: "Without the coach service, around 500 additional cars could potentially travel into St Albans every day, which would have a significant impact on the environment, local businesses on George Street and would increase congestion through the town centre."
The newly-formed George Street Business Association has put forward various suggestions on how the problems could be solved, including making the road a one-way street and introducing height restrictions, to banning large vehicles from using the street altogether, and will be lobbying Herts County Council to implement changes.
A county council spokesperson said: "There are a number of issues in this location, and these require a comprehensive and considered approach. We have been corresponding with local businesses over the past week regarding concerns about vehicles mounting the footpath and school bus movements in the road."