Welwyn Garden City residents rally to protect parking spaces in front of their homes
PUBLISHED: 07:25 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:25 11 October 2018
Plans to introduce a verge protection order in parts of WGC have been deferred after residents argued they will no longer be able to park in front of their houses.
Welwyn Hatfield Council has proposed introducing the verge protection order (VPO) in various roads in Handside Ward, after receiving an increased number of requests to deal with people parking on the pavement and on grass verges.
However residents of Parkway Close argue that as well as protecting the verges the proposed VPO will prevent them from parking on crossovers and hard standings outside their homes, as they have done for the past 50 years.
Susan Busse moved to Parkway Close in 1988 and lives with her husband Michael, who is disabled. The VPO will prevent them from parking on the crossover directly outside their home so Michael will have to walk further to get to the car.
She said: “We’re going to stop parking here and have to park in an advisory disabled space on an uneven surface. They say this isn’t allowed to be used as a parking space and that it’s a footpath.
“All of the parking spaces have got a line of flagstones next to them and it’s been like that for more than 50 years. I believe they were intended to be used as parking spaces.
“We came here 30 years ago this year. We bought the house from someone who said ‘this is where we park our car’. This will have a detrimental effect on our finances because our insurance will go up.”
Susan and other Parkway Close residents attended a meeting of the council’s cabinet planning and parking panel on Thursday, where opposition from residents led to the decision being deferred.
Residents living at the far end of Parkway Close are unhappy with the merging of two zones; their end of the close and the end which opens out onto Parkway, and believe they did not have the full ramifications of the VPO explained to them from the outset.
Parkway Close residents were given a letter a year ago asking if they wanted to maintain their current parking scheme, and they all voted yes. However some residents agreed to the VPO thinking it would protect the grass verges, which have been damaged by bin lorries driving through, and not realising it would jeopardise their parking spaces.
Susan said: “Verge protection is preventing this sort of damage - not parking on a tarmac strip. The policy of verge protection was not explained to residents.”
Another resident, who preferred not to be named, said: “[The parking] is something that’s been going on for a long time and the council have only in the last year been telling us that it’s a problem.
“The council decided after many objections both before and during the meeting that this needed to be deferred so that further consultations will take place with residents.
“We haven’t won anything but hopefully someone will start to listen to residents’ concerns. The consultation process that Welwyn Hatfield currently operates needs to be looked into so there can be more engagement with residents.”
Lib Dem group leader Malcolm Cowan, who spoke at the meeting, said: “I cannot understand why the council seems determined to force through something against such strong opposition of those affected.
“The council normally does everything it can to work by consensus on parking and this usually works. Yet here, not only are residents set to lose parking spaces, their petition against was snubbed by the council to such an extent, members of the Parking Panel were not even made aware of it.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Verge protection orders help prevent people from parking in places that may damage the ground or cause obstruction and safety issues.
“Extensive public consultation is a vital part of introducing any new parking scheme. We sent a follow-up letter in June to clarify that the proposals include vehicle crossovers in some cases and provided residents with a further opportunity to submit comments.
“We fully appreciate that Parkway Close is a special case and have changed our proposals in-light of feedback. This includes ensuring additional parking is made available, including a new disabled space for a resident who advised they had a blue badge.
“We are writing to residents inviting them to a meeting later this month to discuss their concerns in more detail.”