Council and businesses hold crunch meeting over Welwyn Garden City changes

PUBLISHED: 11:00 02 June 2018

The taxi rank has been moved to the southern section of Stonehills.

The taxi rank has been moved to the southern section of Stonehills.

Archant

Herts County Council held crunch talks with Welwyn Garden City businesses after owners vented their fury at the town centre changes.

Following the pedestrianisation of northern Stonehills and relocation of the taxi rank to the south, several shopkeepers launched petitions which collectively garnered over 1,000 signatures.

Herts County Council and Welwyn Hatfield Council subsequently arranged a meeting with owners on Wednesday, May 30.

However, Wendy Harper, manager of the road’s Isabel Hospice store, said: “It was an hour and half of my time wasted.

“They had their answers and opinions on it, they listened but they batted back every excuse possible for whatever objection anyone had.

“I do not believe for a minute it’s a trial, I believe these are the plans and that’s how it’s going to be.”

The changes are part of £1.5million regeneration plans – being tested until June 17 – which also include traffic calming measures and one-way systems in Wigmores North and Fretherne Road.

Classic Fish & Chips owner Mehmet Akkaya, who said the move is “killing” his business, added he also came away disillusioned.

He said: “They are saying it’s only a trial, but even though it’s only four weeks, if my business halves how am I going to cover my rates?”

However, Mike Paraliki, who owns Stonehills Hairdressing, said he attended the meeting and urged patience with the proposals, as long-term they could lead to increased footfall.

He added the idea of pedestrianisation was “positive” in principle, as it would remedy arguments along what Greggs employee Michael Jolley dubbed “road rage alley”.

Carole Webb, who works for A-Plan Insurance, said she thought public parking should be reinstated in Stonehills in the circular format currently being adopted by the taxis, but warned businesses will go bust if it remains how it is.

Herts County Council has been contacted for comment.

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