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Havering Council activates parking meters in Rainham - thanks to pressure from traders and the Recorder

12:47 08 May 2013

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I'll drink to that: The new parking meters should help Ali Soyler (L) and Bircan Kussan (R) of Britannia Cafe - pictured with Cllr Jeff Tucker - get more customers through the door (photo: Sandra Rowse)

Archant

Trade in Rainham Village is on the mend after a tough few months – thanks in part to the Recorder’s involvement during last week’s Shop Local campaign.

The new parking system in Rainham Village

The pay and display meters in Rainham are available for use as of today (Tuesday, May 8).

The current street parking charges are 20p for one hour’s stay, £1.40 for up to one-and-a-half hours’ stay, and £2 for a maximum two-hour stay.

It is hoped that the changes to on-street charges will come into effect in the first week of June. That means parking meter charges outside Romford will be cut from £2 for a maximum stay of two hours to just 20p.

In addition, the maximum length of stay will be extended from two hours to three, and the charges will be the same as Havering’s council-run car parks outside Romford, which cost 20p for two hours and 50p for three.

Cllr Jeff Tucker, who runs the Rainham Goldmine jeweller’s shop in Upminster Road South, said Havering Council’s decision to bring much-needed parking meters into use is thanks to pressure from traders, customers and their local paper.

When the Recorder arrived in Rainham on Friday to speak to shopkeepers about trade in the area, the message was clear: London-bound commuters were taking advantage of the free parking and blocking spaces for customers.

As a result, shops said they had seen footfall decrease by up to 50 per cent.

But after Cllr Tucker and the Recorder contacted Havering Council about the problem, it was decided to bring the meters – built months ago but left switched off – into use immediately.

Clem Smith of Rainham Cobbler with town crier Harry Matthews during Friday's Shop Local campaign (photo: Sandra Rowse)Clem Smith of Rainham Cobbler with town crier Harry Matthews during Friday's Shop Local campaign (photo: Sandra Rowse)

“We’ve still got a lot of catching up to do,” said Cllr Tucker today.

“But we’re on the mend. It’s already made a difference today – cars are coming and going freely now.

“The pressure from the paper and the community made the council react.”

The mood was more negative last week, with traders from all kinds of business saying profits had plummeted.

Chris Haigue (L) and Anron Hajaig (second L) of Aaron's Surplus Army and Navy with town crier Harry Matthews during Friday's Shop Local campaign (photo: Sandra Rowse)Chris Haigue (L) and Anron Hajaig (second L) of Aaron's Surplus Army and Navy with town crier Harry Matthews during Friday's Shop Local campaign (photo: Sandra Rowse)

“I lost a customer just last week,” says Chris Haigue of Aaron’s Surplus Army and Navy store. “He was in a Chevrolet and I told him there was probably a space behind the shop.

“But a few minutes later I saw him drive off – it was all chocked up.

“I called him back to ask what he’d been looking for. He told me, but said he wanted to try it on before committing.

“That was a £120 sale I lost.”

Erin Walker (eight) with town crier Harry Matthews during Friday's Shop Local campaign (photo: Sandra Rowse)Erin Walker (eight) with town crier Harry Matthews during Friday's Shop Local campaign (photo: Sandra Rowse)

Pay and display machines were installed when Rainham Village’s one-way system was established – a change backed by some traders aimed at easing congestion.

But the redesign diverted commuter-packed buses away from the village.

As a result, Pratik Patel, of Rainham News, said his turnover was 50 per cent of what it had been a year ago.

“People used to come in and buy something on the way home,” he said. “But now the bus stops further away so we lose the train customers.”

Billie Hanmore (L) and Lucy Swan (R) of Village Blooms during Shop Local in Rainham (photo: Sandra Rowse)Billie Hanmore (L) and Lucy Swan (R) of Village Blooms during Shop Local in Rainham (photo: Sandra Rowse)

Shashikant Patel, who has worked at the Gayatri newsagent by the war memorial for 27 years, added he’d seen a one-third drop in trade since the village was redesigned. “There aren’t enough places to stop any more,” he said. “If the buses stopped here people would come into the village – but now everybody goes to Tesco.”

Clem Smith of Rainham Cobbler said: “We were told the meters would be running at the end of January – then it was the end of February, and it’s just kept moving back.

“Customers have come in and said they’ve tried to visit us recently but been unable to park and gone elsewhere. I can’t blame them.

“We’ve lost 20 or 30 per cent of our trade.”

Chandrika Patel of Gayatari Newsagents during Shop Local on Friday (photo: Sandra Rowse)Chandrika Patel of Gayatari Newsagents during Shop Local on Friday (photo: Sandra Rowse)

In a statement today, Cllr Michael Armstrong, Havering’s “transformation” boss, said: “The new one-way system in Rainham was introduced with backing from local traders, and to create new parking bays directly outside the village shops.

“We are also reducing street parking charges, and were waiting until this change came in before switching on the meters to avoid confusion.

“However, after speaking to local residents and traders who are worried that the spaces are being abused by commuters, we decided to turn them on sooner.”

The council added it had done “a number of things to encourage people into the area” and would look into signage to direct visitors toward the village centre.

A spokesman said the council encouraged people to support the village through quarterly newsletters. It has secured funding to run workshops for businesses in areas such as visual merchandising and customer relations.

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