Council parking wrangle puts Welwyn art class at risk

PUBLISHED: 08:14 12 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:23 12 July 2017

(L-R) Pat Connolly, Jan Carter, Alan Jackson and Fiona Pruden.

(L-R) Pat Connolly, Jan Carter, Alan Jackson and Fiona Pruden.

Archant

The future of a Welwyn art class has been plunged into doubt after several members were whacked with parking fines.

Teacher Fiona Pruden, 57, has been using the 1st Welwyn Scout Group hall to hold exhibitions and classes since 2002, with members routinely parking in nearby Lockleys Drive car park.

She claimed that due to space shortages, members often “double park” and leave messages on their cars requesting that people notify them if they are blocked in.

However, in the last few weeks the car park has been patrolled by council wardens, who have refused to allow the “understanding” to continue – instead insisting the cars be moved.

Knebworth resident Fiona said: “I have pointed out that there aren’t enough marked-out spaces, and that we’ve been parking like that for years without permission or payment, but they just say we have to park elsewhere.

“The reality is that several of my students are elderly and it would not be possible for them to walk from the other end of the village carrying all their equipment.”

The situation came to a head last week when Fiona was among four people to be slapped with a parking fine.

“We are absolutely furious that this has happened,” Fiona added. “This sort of high-handed attitude serves nobody.”

The mother-of-two currently runs three classes each week at the hall, which she claims generates around £300 each month for the Scouts.

Fiona added that if no solution is found she will be forced to move the class to another venue.

“After 15 years, that is devastating, but also completely lacking in any community spirit,” she said. “Aren’t councils supposed to work in the interest of the community they serve?”

The car park is managed by Welwyn Parish Council, with enforcement carried out by the borough council.

A parish council spokesperson said two disabled bays were created to ensure better access for vulnerable people, and repair work to potholes and line markings was recently completed at several village car parks.

They added: “The borough council has a duty to enforce parking regulations fairly and consistently across Welwyn Hatfield, and the parish council spoke to the group ahead of the changes to make them aware that tickets would be issued if double parking continued.”

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