Poor parking signage continues to leave renovated Old Town ‘empty’

St Mary's Close car park in Hemel Hempstead's Old Town
St Mary's Close car park in Hemel Hempstead's Old Town

Traders and would-be shoppers in Hemel Hempstead’s newly renovated Old Town continue to grapple with ‘confusing’ parking restrictions, with one driver saying they are worse than first thought.

Richard Frost, of Northchurch Common, got in touch following last week’s Gazette article about the High Street parking chaos to explain a number of problems affecting visitors to the area.

He said: “The problem is much worse than last week’s article suggests. A cynic would suggest that the confusing signs and lack of care in signing is a deliberate ploy by Dacorum Borough Council to recover the money spent on the street improvements.

“I hope this is not the case, but the money spent on the improvements was to encourage more people to visit, shop, eat and drink in the historic area. This is not happening.”

High Street dentist Howard Koch also described the signage as ‘inadequate’ and said it was causing his business serious problems. As chairman of the town’s UKIP branch, Mr Koch is also calling for a public inquiry into the roadworks, which went seven months over schedule.

Loretta Anderson, community development officer at Community Action Dacorum, which has its base in the High Street, agrees the signage is unclear and misleading. She said: “The wardens are ticketing cars saying that the signs at the end of the road make it clear, but we don’t think so.

“None of us can see how anyone pulling up there will understand it. The bottom line is the businesses that have already lost so much trade now have the issue that short-term parkers must be nervous of where they can go. The street is empty.”

Dacorum Borough Council said the signage was a method of reducing street clutter, and maintains the short-term parking and restricted zones are aimed at making it easier for people to visit the area.

Council leader Andrew Williams explained that parking is only allowed if there is a sign on the bay saying so.