‘Overzealous policing’ of parking in the town centre by traffic wardens is putting people off coming into town and adversely affecting trade.
That is the view of many business owners in Westgate, who are worried that unnecessarily stringent enforcement is killing the town centre.
David Eggleston, who runs Tuffies Discount store in Westgate, set up a petition three weeks ago and has attracted more than 800 signatures calling for restrictions to be eased so local businesses can load and unload outside their shops without fear of getting a ticket.
Mr Eggleston has received two tickets himself and owes more than £200 in fines but says he will not pay.
Mr Eggleston said: “We cannot unload into our own shop. We unload 10 to 12 very heavy pallets every week, but we have to park 50 yards down the road and lug them up to the shop. That’s a health and safety issue.
“We have been told that if we are unloading we have to keep the doors of the van open otherwise we will get a ticket.”
Mr Eggleston also says that disabled drivers have received tickets for parking outside his shop. “We even had a 90-year-old lady park outside so we could load up some bird seed for her and she got a ticket. Disabled drivers can park on the High Street no problem, so why not here?”
David, who has run Tuffies in Westgate for nine years, added: “They are going to kill off Westgate. We have lost 10 to 12 per cent of business over the last six months and it’s getting worse.”
Tom Simmonds, of Simmonds Music, says footfall in his shop is down 70 per cent in six months. He said: “It’s ludicrous. It’s getting beyond a joke. We are getting so many drivers with deliveries getting parking tickets.”
Mr Simmonds said delivery vehicles were having to double park because the bay outside his shop was always full. Drivers were parking in the loading bay because, he said, the signage was not clear.
He added: “It seems like Westgate is being targeted. It will come to the stage where couriers do not want to deliver because they get ticketed all the time. There needs to be a degree of common sense employed.”
Kaz Smith, who runs the Market Cafe, said there was a roaring trade when she opened the business six months ago but it had been hit hard since. She said: “It’s appalling. The council needs to be fetching people into town not frightening them away.”
John Kidd at Buster’s Blooms says his trade is down by a third as a result of the new parking restrictions.
He said: “Many of my customers are complaining about the traffic wardens. If they have a heavy bag of groceries or potatoes to carry to their car, they have no sooner parked up in the loading bay across the road than a traffic warden is on them. There was never any problem before. This has not been properly thought out. There is no logic to it.”
Luke Adams, owner of the Trickling Tap, is equally concerned about the affect of the parking enforcement.
Just outside his shop is a loading bay. Previously this was not clearly marked and many of his customers fell foul of the parking restrictions, thinking it was for general parking.
He said: “My customers were regularly getting tickets. Now they have made the signage clearer, fewer customers are being caught out but when they have a big order to pick up and park in the bay to load up, they are being told they can’t stop there.
“It stops the customers coming back. I even have problems when I park my van there to load and unload, which is surely the point of the loading bay. It’s all very confusing.”
At A J Creese, owner Nick Odam thinks that the specially created loading bays are too far from many of the shops and that is causing major problems for deliveries.
He said: “When they are delivering to us they have to park across the road in the loading bay, well away from the shop, which makes it very difficult for the delivery drivers. Even we can’t pull our van up outside the shop now to load or unload.”
Lewis Checkley, of antiques shop Notions, said he had to load and unload items in the loading bay across the road. He said: “It’s a matter of health and safety. Carrying a piece of heavy furniture across the road is quite dangerous. No discretion is used when it comes to local businesses, so if you park your van outside and it is not obstructing the way they still give you a ticket. I would like to see a bit more leniency towards businesses in Grantham.”
Charity shops are also suffering, as manager of Age UK in Market Place, Kay Dawkins, explained.
She said: “We are losing out on donations quite heavily. If people try to stop on the roadside to quickly drop off their donations, they are scared of getting a ticket and of people pipping them. It’s much easier to park elsewhere in town.”
The elderly and disabled among customers are particularly affected, says Delia Bowerbank, who runs Westgate Crafts. She said: “A lot of customers are elderly and have mobility issues and the fact that people are getting parking tickets is putting them off, and if they cannot park nearby they will go elsewhere. They are going to Newark, Bourne, Stamford where there are no problems parking. But it’s very unclear where you can park in Westgate. There is a lot of confusion.”
A few years ago a revamp of Market Place saw up to 50 car parking spaces lost as they were replaced by paved areas. Earlier this year a number of signs in Westgate were moved or lowered because they were obscured, causing more confusion over where people could park or load and unload.
Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways and transportation at Lincolnshire County Council, will meet Westgate traders on Monday morning to discuss the problems they are facing.
Coun Davies says he feels confident that a solution can be found to suit traders in the area.
He said: “There is clearly an issue over delivery vehicles. There may be a time issue where deliveries need to be made before 9am so they are not parking in the street during the day.
“I am very sympathetic and I am sure we can come up with a suitable solution.”
Coun Davies added: “I’ll be meeting highways and parking managers on Monday to discuss issues regarding parking, and loading and unloading on Westgate, Grantham. We’ve made significant improvements in the area, and changed some parking restrictions so that businesses can use loading bays or limited waiting bays to unload. The scheme was completed last year, and having been implemented for a few months, I’m keen to hear the views of local businesses and the public.”
Coun Davies will be joined by a parking enforcement manager from the council to speak to traders. Parking enforcement officers have been described as ‘overzealous’ in giving out parking tickets to motorists and delivery drivers in Westgate.