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Hilldene parking charges one month on: Residents say spaces more easily available but traders and councillors point to problems

PUBLISHED: 19:00 05 August 2013 | UPDATED: 08:53 08 August 2013

Michael O'Meara, owner of The Diner, Cllr Denis O'Flynn, Danny Wallis, employee at Flower Girl, Ronak Patel, proprieter of Roseland News, and Cllr Paul McGeary opposed the introduction of the parking charges back in January

Michael O'Meara, owner of The Diner, Cllr Denis O'Flynn, Danny Wallis, employee at Flower Girl, Ronak Patel, proprieter of Roseland News, and Cllr Paul McGeary opposed the introduction of the parking charges back in January

Archant

It’s a month since the controversial parking charges at the Hilldene shopping centre came into effect – and opinion on Harold Hill remains firmly divided.

Local councillors say the streets around the shopping area have suffered the most, with shoppers avoiding the charges parking in Hilldene Close and Chippenham Gardens.

Cllr Keith Darvill (Labour, Heaton) said: “There have been examples of people getting pretty frustrated at each other. People are parking on both sides of Hilldene Close so there’s only space to get one car down, and there’s a bit of road rage going on.”

Traders like Ronak Patel and Michael O’Meara remain opposed to the charges, which the council said were to stop commuters blocking the spaces - an argument Cllr Darvill rejects because Hilldene is two miles from the nearest station.

“I’d say it’s affected us by 30 or 40 per cent,” said Ronak, who owns Roseland News in Hilldene Avenue. “The car park is empty. At any time of day there are hundreds of spaces.

“It was nice and busy – now people go somewhere else.

“I never thought it would affect us this much.”

But council leader Cllr Michael White said 8,000 people were using the spaces each week.

Michael, who runs The Diner, said it was too early to say whether his restaurant had been hit by the parking meters – but said he believed the 20p charge would be “detrimental” and that no one wanted to pay it.

“It’s exploitation of local businesses,” he said.

“People will go to superstores and shopping malls, and local shopping will be a thing of the past.”

But residents say the meters have been a success, with spaces finally opening up for them.

“I for one am very happy with the way things are now at Hilldene,” Marion Harvie, 61, told the Recorder. “I visit the shops at least three times a week.

“It used to be very difficult finding a space near the shops I use.

“The 20p charge really has made it easier to park and the shops are just as busy, if not busier, than they were before.”

Donna W of South Hornchurch wrote on the Recorder-backed Streetlife website: “Hilldene should be treated in exactly the same way as other areas. We have all had to put up with the introduction of parking charges.

“If Hilldene residents value their shops a 20p charge will not put them off.”

And Florence D of Harold Hill added: “Went to Hilldene shops this morning – much easier to find a space now that there is a small 20p charge.”

Cllr White said: “Parking charges in Havering remain among the lowest in London for a reason. We want to provide value for money for residents and support local businesses.”


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