Campaigners vow to get Saffron Walden Common car park back to four hours waiting after time limit cut is reduced

The council have backed down over parking times on Saffron Walden Common

The council have backed down over parking times on Saffron Walden Common - Credit: Archant

Following pressure from retailers and market traders in the form of a petition, council bosses have backed down on their decision to halve parking times at Saffron Walden Common and have offered a compromise.

Last week The Reporter revealed how hundreds of people had signed the petition to reverse the decision from Uttlesford District Council to cut the maximum stay at the car park from four to two hours.

In response to criticism from business owners, UDC decided that a three-hour stay will now be introduced at the car park following a cabinet meeting on Thursday, April 7.

Retailers and market traders are not satisfied with the council’s compromise and say they will continue to fight for the four-hour tariff to be reintroduced. But the council insist that this will not happen as it was not well used.

Jacqui Portway, market trader, said: “We are not going to give up until the parking times on the common are back as they were, and will be politely continuing our petition.

“Saffron Walden is a lovely place, and it’s not the sort of town where people should be rushed. Life is hassle enough without having to worry about how long is left on the car.

“All the traders and retailers feel the same and we will not be brushed aside on this.”

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The three-hour maximum stay is likely to take between one to two months to be implemented, which Mrs Portway says is too long a wait.

She said: “The town is already struggling and could be decimated completely in a few months. I’m livid with the whole situation.”

Councillor Howard Rolfe, leader of UDC, said: “The maximum stay was recently reduced from four to two hours on the back of an in-depth, independent study of car parks across the district.

“The proposal was introduced to increase turnover in the car park and improve footfall in the town centre.

“It was designed to work in conjunction with the other car parks in the town as a package intended to make the most of the attractiveness of Saffron Walden as somewhere with good parking provision.

“However, the council has since received a number of representations in relation to the two hour limit, in particular from the retail and business sector in Saffron Walden. This is the group for which the proposal was originally set out, but which feels a two hour limit could be counter-productive to their business.

“Therefore, the council has put in place its intentions to extend the maximum stay to three hours in the car park. We feel this addresses both the original intention of the review and also the needs of the retail and business sector.

“A four-hour tariff will not be reintroduced as this was not well used, however we will continue to monitor the usage of the Common car park, as we do with all our car parks, to ensure this reflects the changing demands and shopping habits of our residents and visitors.”