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Harold Wood, like other shopping areas, has its fair share of problems, but car parking doesn’t seem to be one of them.

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Lisa Mehmet, the owner of The Chippy in Station Road said: “Parking is not a problem, to be honest.

“People can come in and use the shop for just 20p in the machine.”

This advantage of Harold Wood was revealed during the Recorder’s Shop Local campaign, which aims to support local businesses and to encourage people to use shops in Havering.

The council introduced parking charges in Station Road in January 2008.

Shopkeepers were against the move at the time, arguing that it would drive people away from the area and to places such as Lakeside.

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

But as part of the council’s reduction in the cost of on-street parking, drivers will soon be charged 20p for a two-hour stay and 50p for three hours.

Cllr Barry Tebbutt, cabinet member for street care, said: “We’re changing the way we manage parking across shopping areas outside Romford to help traders and shoppers.”

Indeed, it seems that Harold Wood’s shops could do with a boost. Lisa said: “Business is quiet, but that has nothing to do with the parking. It’s never really been the same since Harold Wood Hospital closed.

“We were against the parking meters when the council were introducing them, but it’s really helped the area.”

Jan Grimstead, the owner of JJ’s Beauty Salon, added: “I have been here for 13 years. It is a friendly area, people are lovely.

“Parking is brilliant. It never used to be good, but since the council introduced the parking charges, it has made a massive difference.”

Sophie Morris, manager of Images Hair and Beauty Salon, also praised the meters but complained that more spaces were needed.

She said: “The parking meters are good, but we still get a lot of people parking up for two to three hours, so there needs to be more of it.

“My customers also say that there is no place for them to stop if they are being dropped off.”

That could be about to change, according to Cllr Tebbutt, who said: “We’re also looking at introducing a new drop-off bay near the station at Harold Wood to help those who are being dropped to the station or to shop in the area.”

If you are the gentleman circled in red above you’re £50 richer! To claim your prize you must attend the Recorder’s offices at 539 High Road, Ilford.

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