As with many market towns up and down the UK, both traffic congestions and the parking regime are a major concern for residents and businesses.
The town centre is served by six car parks owned and run by East Herts District Council. These use a pay-and-display method of charging, whereby you purchase a ticket for a set amount of time when you arrive in the car park.
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 in Hertford - the Gascoyne Way Multi-Storey Car Park and a facility on Hartham Lane, utilising the old railway line. A new multi-storey car park was developed at Bircherley Green in the 1980s but this only replaced a pre-existing facility on the site of the former Bus Station.
There is also am issue with long term parking for people who work in the town. Over the 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. In response, the District Council has introduced three Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs).
Cost of Parking
The District Council has a policy of ensuring that motorists cover the cost of providing car parks in the town, and that these car parks are not subsidised by Council Tax payers. At the time of writing (March 2014) there is currently an overall £610,000 revenue surplus in the District Council's car parking budget.
Pay and Display
The Pay and Display system has also come in for a lot criticism. Under the system, you pay to park for a set period of time. If you exceed that period you are fined. Many people have argued 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 Council 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.
Introduction of Free 30 Minute Tariff
In March 2014 the District Council approved the introduction of an initial 30 minute free period for using the council's car parks. The existing charging bands would be moved back by 30 minutes, meaning that the first 1½ hours would be charged at the same rate as the existing hour, with 2&halh; hours costing the same as the existing 2 hour charge.
Installation of New Payment Machines
New payment machines were installed in the town's car parks in October 2016. As well as allowing the existing pay and display method of parking, the new machines also introduced cashless payments and pay on exit.
Introduction and Postponement of Evening Charges
In March 2014 the District Council approved the introduction of a flat rate £1 charge for use of the council's car parks during the evening, up to 10pm, subject to a public consultation and Traffic Regulation Order.
However, following a petition by town centre residents and local organisations, the council decided not to implement the scheme due to the adverse efects this would have on town centre resident and the evening economy, as well as voluntary group and community organisations who typically meet during the evening.
- 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 closed 2012
Tesco has parking for 283 cars for up to 2 hours and uses an ANPR system for enforecment. Sainsbury's has parking for 229 vehicles and uses a pay and display system. 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.
A fourth CPZ was proposed for the Port Vale area to the west of the town centre. A consultation was launched in May 2011 and broad support was expressed by residents. However, following the publication of a Traffic Regulation Order in August 2012, it became clear that there was no longer widespread support for the zone and the district council suspended all further work on the scheme.
Other residential streets also have parking restrictions during certain hours.
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.
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, such as 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.