Upminster traders: ‘Lack of free parking is hitting sales’
PUBLISHED: 16:59 19 March 2013 | UPDATED: 17:03 19 March 2013
The Romford Recorder visited Upminster on Friday to listen out for the word on the street. And the message from traders is clear: “There’s not enough parking and it’s affecting business.”
Last week the council’s planning committee voted in favour of selling off the Old Windmill Hall site – which protestors argued could have accommodated an extended car park to ease problems on the high street.
And last year the council introduced marked bays, a minimum charge of 20p and a chicane in Corbets Tey Road – saying it wanted to ease congestion.
But shopkeepers told the Recorder, out and about during its weekly Shop Local campaign, the changes have made things worse.
And they believe the problems are driving down sales in an already tough business climate.
Emel Omer, from Beaux Bangle, in Corbets Tey Road, said: “People don’t realise how tough it is for independent traders. I didn’t until I got the shop in August.
“The lack of parking spaces doesn’t help customers come here, especially since the free parking stopped. People are more likely to go to Lakeside because it’s free there. We need more to encourage them to shop locally.”
Jeweller and watchmaker Roger Anthony, of Bell Corner Jewellers in Corbets Tey Road, added: “Sales are down and our customers all say they can’t get parking.
“We have one customer who is 93 and has been coming to us for years – he now has to park right the way down St Mary’s Lane because the council says it’s no parking [on our side of the road]. It wasn’t causing a problem when people could park there.
“In Epping, shoppers can park for 30 minutes free and it’s great. Here, if you park for more than two minutes they’re on you like a dose of salts.”
Karen Cox, of Flaxten Cards, added: “There’s not enough parking. It’s a lovely high street but I live in Hornchurch and I never come to Upminster to shop because of the parking.”
And Paul Wilson, of Hornminster Glen, said: “I think 20p parking for an hour is reasonable, but it stops some people coming to shop. Free parking would be perfect to help local traders.”
But Havering Council insisted its pay and display bays had been a success.
Environment boss Cllr Barry Tebbutt said: “We introduced the pay and display bays so anyone could park there, not just those who have an annual parking disc, and the figures show it’s been really popular. There’s also ample parking available at Hoppy Hall and Gaynes Road car parks, with charges as low as 20p for the first two hours.”