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PARKING ANGER: Dorchester traders slam loss of free bays
UPSET: From left, Robert Lunn from Box of Porcelain, John Sherry from Autobiz, Rory Major from Tom Browns, Stephen Gee from F.L.Mabb and Chris Hazell from Alter Ego
ANGRY traders in Dorchester are calling on the local authorities to ease their customer parking problems.
It comes after the Dorset County Council took the decision to introduce on-street parking in July 2009 – four years on traders claim they are financially suffering as a consequence.
Now, the traders fear that plans in consultation as part of the Dorchester Transport and Environment Plan (DTEP) could make the situation worse.
For many of the independent traders in High East Street, their customers are unable to park legally outside the shops to pick up items.
They either risk using the double yellow lines or have to park in a nearby car park, but traders claim this is logistically impossible with larger items.
Owner of Box of Porcelain, Robert Lunn, said: “Traders have been hugely affected by the loss of free parking here.
“Cleary we have not been a priority at all for the council when that decision was made.
“We have no back entrances to our shops so delivery drivers on our road need to park on double yellows and clog up the road and customers have to park quite far away to just pick something up.
“What we need is three or four settling down bays where customers are allowed to stop for a short period of time.
“For the retailers on this road we contend with the busy road, higher pollution levels than are healthy for us, no free parking, continual delays with delivery trucks and now, with the new transport plan, that could be made worse.”
Landlady of Tom Browns, Jo-Ann Von Weichardt, said the delivery trucks are forced to park on double yellow lines and said settling down points should be introduced.
Before the consultation for DTEP gets underway project director of the Dorchester BID, Phil Gordon, said he will take forward their issues at the next DTEP consultation meeting.
He said: “The BID fought hard to encourage the local authorities to do something to help the traders in Dorchester in regards to parking.
“The result was that free parking was introduced after 6pm and on Sundays.
“This was a major success and we hope to bring forward the traders’ concerns once more at the next opportunity.”
'It feels like this end of town is dying'
A HIGH East Street trader is considering closing her business due to the problems in the road.
Chris Hazell, owner of Alter Ego fancy dress shop, said: “We already had all the daytime free parking taken away and now we’re being told some of the on-street parking spaces may go too.
“I accept that all parking can’t be free anymore but we’re just asking for 30 minutes free to allow our customers to pick things up.
“We have been affected so much by the removal of parking here that I can’t see a future for myself in this location anymore.
“I lost more than 10 per cent of business when the changes came in and it feels like this end of town is dying.”
Aiming to protect historic heart
The Dorchester Transport and Environment Plan by Dorset County Council aims to protect the historic heart of the town by reducing through traffic and improving air quality.
The three phases are set to be completed by May 2018 and the public exhibition for phase one starts next month in October.
Phase one will introduce new traffic management measures in High West Street to improve air quality and redistribute through traffic onto the bypass. This will include one-way traffic on the high street, rerouting buses onto Princes Street with new signals at the junction of Princes Street and Albert Road and a change in vehicle priorities into Great Western Road.
There will also be some parking and loading bays.
To view the plans visit dorsetforyou.com/dorchester-transport-plan
Council is 'not supporting us'
THE owner of a Dorchester jeweller, James Mortimer, said the parking situation is responsible for a ‘significant drop in business for traders’.
He said that life is tough for traders and the council shows no support for his shop in High East Street or any of his neighbours.
He said: “I have been here 10 years and it feels the county council is giving our customers less and less incentive to come into the town.
“They took away our free parking, which impacted us greatly, and now customers find it hard to park.
“No one can just stop to pick up goods and on Wednesdays it is a real problem.”
He added: “We pay our rates and work hard so we need some support before customers are driven away by the lure of free parking elsewhere.”
Parking voucher scheme
The parking voucher scheme introduced by Dorchester BID in January 2012 has been a success in some shops with thousands of tickets being reimbursed.
So far businesses have received more than £4,000 from the parking scheme as a result of customers claiming back their parking.
At the Frederick Mabb clothing store assistant manager Stephen Gee said the scheme has been hugely successful for their store.
He said: “It really is just a good incentive for customers, and people like the fact they can come to us and claim it back. We probably average about 20 tickets a month.”
More than 60 businesses now take part in the voucher scheme. To see which businesses allow you to claim money back for your parking visit dorchesterdorset.com
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