‘No more tickets here!’ – Old Town bay parking fines lifted as bus route STILL not found

Hemel Hempstead Old Town traders Michelle Smith of Off The Wall antiques and Said Benenaziza, owner of the Moroccan Kasbah restaurant
Hemel Hempstead Old Town traders Michelle Smith of Off The Wall antiques and Said Benenaziza, owner of the Moroccan Kasbah restaurant
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Parking wardens have been ordered not to ticket those who park in a section of the Old Town which is designated for buses.

Dacorum Borough Council allocated the bay near the St Mary’s Close car park for a bus route to pass through the newly renovated High Street. But, more than eight months after works finished, there is still no such public transport provision.

Old Town traders and shoppers have long vented frustrations at parking measures in the area which have been blasted as confusing and poorly-signed, but it is the bus bay which has seen motorists fined on an almost daily basis .

Businesses such as Michelle Smith’s Off The Wall antiques, situated directly in front of the space, took matters into their own hands by personally warning would-be parkers about the fines, and even hosting a tea party in the bay last week to prevent people from getting tickets.

Responding to calls to lift the bus bay restriction, council leader Andrew Williams yesterday confirmed he has asked the authority’s enforcement officers to stop issuing tickets in the bus bay.

He said: “It is still a bus stop, and still illegal to park in it, but we are no longer issuing penalty notices for those that do. We have had issues with not being able to get a bus route, so I have taken the view that while we have not secured a bus provider it would be helpful to customers to suspend ticketing because of the upset it has caused.

“Longer-term, if we can’t secure a bus route going forward then it may be possible to change the designation of the area, but we are not proposing that at this stage.”

Mr Williams added he wanted to encourage short-stay parking in the bay during the day for shoppers, with use in the evenings to support the restaurant trade.

Off The Wall owner Michelle said: “I am happy that the restrictions have been lifted, but frustrated that it could have been done as soon as the works were finished.

“We’ve had months and months of people being ticketed and lots of them havebeen alienated from coming to the Old Town.

“Lots of businesses here were disgruntled, but now that people can stop for a short time to have a look around it will hopefully encourage more customers to use our shops.”

A spokesman for Dacorum Borough Council said the authority is continuing to work with Hertfordshire County Council to look at bus services for the area.