Leigh Park traders voice anger over new parking regime

Store manager Sophie Thomas and 'The News Local Hero' Ben Brown, 34, from Cowplain along with the 60 strong team at the new store ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (180321-1299)

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TRADERS have hit out at a new parking scheme in a struggling shopping precinct.

Shopkeepers in Leigh Park’s Park Parade were hoping a £417,000 revamp of Somborne Drive – the gateway to the shopping centre – would be the lifeline they had been waiting for.

But, despite the road and area around it being spruced up, they are unhappy with new on-street parking bays which they say have not improved footfall.

They were hoping for scores of new 30-minute parking bays for the general public to be able to pop in and out of shops.

But instead there are six spaces for the disabled and a further seven where blue badge holders get one hour parking and other motorists get 30 minutes.

Mike Joines, 49, who owns Zoom Hairdressing, said: ‘The disabled badge holders can park anywhere anyway.

‘They made it sound like they were creating all these free bays for the general public to pop in and use the shops for up to 30 minutes.

‘They are just not doing anything in terms of the parking.

‘The traffic warden is hovering around as well trying to catch people out which does not help things either.

‘We desperately need a helping hand.

‘Just doing up the street is not going to get customers rushing in, but free parking will.’

But Ann Buckley, councillor for the area, said the revamp carried out by Hampshire County Council could still kick-start a revival.

She said: ‘It’s made the whole area look better.

‘It’s the first major investment in that area for years.’

But she added: ‘If there was a lot of people around on one day then the spaces could get filled up with blue badge holders.’

Councillor Mel Kendal, in charge of transport at the county council, said: ‘We acknowledge that in the current economic climate, the financial situation for many businesses is a challenging one.

‘We have worked on a scheme with Havant Borough Council to improve pedestrian and cycle facilities as well as accessibility to the shops in Somborne Drive.

‘As part of the overall scheme 13 car parking spaces have been provided within five new lay-bys.’

He added that there are 13 free 30-minute spaces at the nearby Greywell Centre.