Businesses left baffled as traffic wardens 'abandon' street
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Businesses on a soon-to-be permanently pedestrianised street feel the council has "abandoned" them in their battle against crafty drivers riding rough-shod over the traffic ban.
Mark Hedge, manager at Cookes musical instrument store on Norwich's St Benedict's Street, said he has only seen city council traffic wardens twice since April 12 — despite working six days a week.
He asked: "Where are they all? They've abandoned the place.
"The council took away businesses' parking spaces when traffic was banned last year, and now they've got the cheek not to enforce it.
"It's a slap in the face."
The council was contacted for comment.
Mr Hedge said delivery vans were still able to access his store, as were customers collecting heavy items.
But he explained there were still people parking up outside his front door for hours when they shouldn't be and simply "getting away with it".
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He added: "It's a free-for-all."
The council has been enforcing penalty charge notices (PCNs) across 2020 and 2021, but nowhere near as many as the years before.
Between January and August, 2021, the council issued 118 PCNs. But in 2018 the number was nearly four times as many.
Of course, there were three lockdowns to factor in, but even in the months where life was "back to normal" penalty charges remained low.
In June-August this year, 80 people were slapped with fines. But in 2019 the number was double that at 158.
David Potter at The Bicycle Shop restaurant said it wasn't just retailers being affected.
He said: "Having traffic wardens right now would be very useful.
"It's a question of access.
"There are loading bays outside the restaurant, but they're being used as parking bays by some people. That has frustrated a few of my deliveries.
"We're in a transitionary period because of the move to permanent pedestrianisation, and it would be helpful if the council could send some wardens to help us navigate that."
Meanwhile Paul Mills, owner of Soundclash Records, said he hadn't noticed the issue.
He explained: "Nobody should be coming up this street now except for deliveries and collections.
"Fair enough, some crafty drivers are parking up here when they shouldn't be. But there's probably less wardens because in theory there shouldn't be any traffic.
"Personally, I don't care. It's having a much bigger impact on other businesses than mine specifically."