Driven out of town

MCHG 12-979   Barbara and David Moger, in the foreground, and other residents of Shrublands Avenue, Berkhamsted, who want to say "No" to parking permits.
MCHG 12-979 Barbara and David Moger, in the foreground, and other residents of Shrublands Avenue, Berkhamsted, who want to say "No" to parking permits.

Campaigners who condemned a controversial parking permit scheme are claiming victory this week after it was scrapped by the politicians who championed the restrictions.

The proposal by Berkhamsted Town Council for residents-only spaces around Charles Street and the railway station had been vehemently opposed by town businesses, who warned that firms would move out if staff couldn’t park and shops would suffer if customers were kept out in the cold.

The plan, which councillors have been working on since 2008, was to free up spaces for townspeople near their homes, which are currently being hogged by commuters.

The council has already spent more than £9,000 on plans for the permits and it is the second time councillors have tried and failed to introduce the measure.

In a public consultation last month, there were comprehensive votes against the idea by people who responded.

David Steadman, director of Berkhamsted High Street-based Travel Time World, said: “The overwhelming response from people was negative and against it.

“We feel it has been a good result for common sense. I think everyone sighed with relief when they heard the news.”

Councillor Laurence Handy, who lives in North Road – within what would have been zone P if the scheme had been introduced – said the plans had put the town through a ‘bruising, not terribly pleasant, experience’.

He was speaking at a meeting of the council’s transport and environment committee on Monday before the plans were scrapped at a meeting of the full council held afterwards.

Councillor Julie Laws, who helped draw up the plans, said they should now be abolished.

She said: “The problems encountered on a daily basis in Berkhamsted, due to its topography, its heritage – which we all want to preserve – and the railway station will not change.”

But she said plans to extend commuter ban restrictions in roads where they are already in place should be looked at again by the council’s parking working group.

This was supported by 81 per cent of people living in those roads during the consultation – but opposed by 79 per cent of people who live in neighbouring roads.

Fears were raised by respondents about displacement parking, which the working party will now examine.

Dacorum Borough Council’s proposals for a £3million three-storey multi-storey car park in Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted, are still on the table.

Jane Keenan, of Station Road, opposed the permit scheme with other neighbours who feared it would lead to fewer parking spaces for them.

She said they want to work with councillors and business-owners in a new parking forum to find another way to free up spaces in the town.

“My office looks straight out onto Lower Kings Road and by 10am every Friday, there’s chaos,” she said.

“There are often road rage incidents involving drivers trying to park when there’s no capacity.”