Updated Monday 20th July 2009
As with many market towns up and down the UK, both the volume of traffic and parking provision are a major concern.
Historically, the limits of the town centre have been confined, prohibiting expansion. Over the last thirty years only two new car parks have been developed - the Gascoyne Way Multi-Storey Car Park and the facility on Hartham Common, with around 90 spaces. A new multi-storey car park was developed at Bircherley Green in the 1980's but this only replaced a facility on the site of the former Bus Station. Matters have not been improved by the local authority's wish to discourage cars from the town centre by limiting available spaces in the hope that the public would utilise public transport instead. However, the County Council's transport policies have come under criticism from the Government Office for the East of England (2003).
There is also a particular problem with long term parking for people who work in the town. Over the last few years there has been an increase in the amount of office space in the town and this has led to numbers of workers parking in residential streets. This is also the case with commuter parking, where workers drive into the town to use the two stations and park in residential areas. The East station in fact has only a dozen or so spaces. There have been proposals by the council for resident's parking schemes in these areas and initially these were resisted by residents who are unwilling to pay because they see the problem as having been partly created by the council itself. However, a scheme for The Folly is now in place and roads around Hertford East station will have a scheme up and running in early 2008.
More information about Residents Parking Schemes are available at the District Council's website here.
Cost of Parking
The cost of parking is also an issue, with motorists facing the same costs as in nearby towns with large shopping centres. There are a number new towns within a short distance to the North, West and East, with shopping malls and outlets such as Marks and Spencer and BhS, which have ample parking.
Police Traffic Wardens Withdrawn
In Autumn 2002, the local police effectively withdrew traffic wardens from Hertford, leaving the town without anyone to enforce on-street parking regulations. This led to widespread flouting of the regulations, which was particularly apparent in the evening from Thursday and through the weekend. It was over two years before the decriminalisation of parking law and the empowerment of the local authority to provide wardens allowed the District Council to deploy their own wardens.
Private Wardens were officially deployed by The Council on 17th January 2005 and immediately had an impact on the town, both in terms of the reduction in illegal parking and the number of complaints from the public. The local press were also vocal in their criticism of the wardens, who were perceived as unwavering in their strict interpretation of the regulations. The wardens were backed up by East Herts District Council and in particular Cllr Bob Parker, the executive responsible for parking.
It is widely believed that the Parking Attendants have targets, although the District Council has denied this. However, there is evidence from former attendants and others that this is indeed the case and that the District Council are not being entirely open on this issue.
Fines from on-street parking tickets have to be re-invested in parking and traffic measures, whereas fines from car parks can be used however the Council wishes.
A parking study commissioned by the District Council resulted in a new strategy that included reducing the number of long stay parking spaces and increased charges.
Pay and Display
The Pay and Display system has also come in for alot criticism. Under the system, you pay for a set period of parking. If you exceed that period you are fined. Many people argue that a Pay On Foot system would be better, whereby you buy a ticket and pay whenever you return for whatever period you have stayed. The District Authority however have been extremely reluctant to implement such a system on cost grounds, both because of the cost of new equipment and the loss of income from parking fines. However, the Council have agreed in Summer 2007 to investigate co-funding a pay-on-exit or pay-on-foot scheme at Bircherley Green as a joint venture with the owners of Bircherley Green shopping centre.
In July 2004, the District Council announced that parking meters were to be installed with a charge of 20p per half hour. The meters would be installed in areas where on-street parking had previously been free - Fore Street, Bull Plain, South Street, St.Andrews Street, The Wash, Parliament Square, Bell Lane, Church Street and South Street. However, these plans were deferred following representations from local businesses and the Town Council.
- Bircherley Green multi-storey- 182 spaces - short stay
- Gascoyne Way multi-storey - 361 spaces - short and long stay
- St.Andrews Street - 100 spaces - short stay
- London Road - 102 spaces - long stay
- Hartham Common - 119 spaces - short and long stay
- Hartham Lane - 85 spaces - short and long stay
- Baker Street - 38 spaces - long stay
Short stay charges are 70p per hour up to 5 hours.
Long stay charges are £3.50 for 5 hours or £4.20 all day.
Tesco has parking for 283 cars for up to 2 hours. M&S Food also has a small pay-and-display car park for customers.
On street parking is available for up to 30 minutes in Fore Street and Bull Plain.
Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ)
There are three Controlled Parking Zones or Residents Parking Schemes, on Folly Island (H1), Chambers Street (H2) and the Hertford East Area (H3). Hours of operation are 8am-6pm Monday to Saturday.
Other residential streets also have parking restriction during certain hours.
Have your say on this issues. To tell us what you think about Traffic & Parking in Hertford click here.