Having read Councillor Philip Price's comments on the front of the Hereford Times, December 19, and consulted with a number of independent retailers, I felt compelled to write to him urgently with a suggestion that I feel would help alleviate the imminent traffic problems and also greatly help the independents in the historic heart of the City.
I am the owner of Hat Trick and Foot Note, an independent fashion accessory shop. I have been a retailer in Hereford for over 20 years, have served on the committee of The Church Street and East Street Regeneration Project and have recently been voted Hereford's Favourite Independent Retailer 2013 in the Discover Hereford campaign organised by our forward thinking and proactive MP, Jesse Norman.
I live in the heart of the City, in Cantilupe Street,as well as running my business in East Street.
I have been thinking for some time that the 30 minute parking restriction in St Owen Street is totally inadequate. It is a very long, wide, one way street that can accommodate approximately 70 vehicles, even with the existing double yellow lines, loading bays and disabled spaces (some of which seem unnecessary and excessive). There are two doctors surgeries and chemist shops in the street and I seriously question whether any patient could guarantee to be able to park, wait, see a GP and collect a prescription in that short time. I am sure a lot of sick people have been dismayed to find a parking ticket on their cars.There are a number of independent retailers and restaurants there also (including a newly opened one, Miro) which would obviously benefit from a longer parking time. It's close proximity to High Town and more importantly to the independent shops in Church Street and East Street would be a great advantage. I have lost count of the number of my customers who have said it would be marvellous to be able to park there for longer, particularly when they cannot find spaces in the car parks. Indeed, I have noticed that the street is often full of cars on a Sunday, when shoppers can park for a longer time.
I urge Coun Philips to consider increasing the time allowed to a least an hour. This would also reduce the number of traffic movements. This would be an inexpensive and easy operation and would show all of the independents that you are prepared to help with traffic flow and customer footfall. Anything that can help reduce the number of vehicles travelling along Newmarket Street and entering the Tesco roundabout has to be beneficial. Motorists could access St Owen street either from Gaol Street or Union Street. With this in mind, I hope that you are planning to extensively publicise the opening of the car park near Morrisons, as this would also help to keep shoppers away from Newmarket Street.
I am sure there are a number of suggestions that other retailers could make should you wish to liaise with us. I would be very happy to meet with you, hopefully with other independents and possibly chain store managers.
Can I finish by saying that it will be the continuing existence of the independents that will be the deciding factor as to whether Hereford can maintain or, hopefully, increase it's visitor numbers, not just the additional retail offer at the new development. As specified by the huge number of customers who voted for me as Hereford's Favourite Independent, it is the small, interesting and service orientated retailers (that are hanging on by a thread) that brings the discerning and loyal customer into the City. A lot of them live outside and mainly have to visit by car and many have stated that they only visit Hereford because of a small handful of exciting independents as chain stores can be found everywhere and often with much easier access and parking.
I speak on behalf of all the hard working independent retailers of Hereford, as the Cabinet Member responsible for Infrastructure, please give this suggestion your urgent attention and investigate any other changes that may help keep the City's traffic moving.