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Harpenden residents hit out at pedestrianisation plans for Lower High Street
Shop owners in Harpenden have hit out at plans to pedestrianise part of the Lower High Street, saying that it will cripple businesses.
More than 200 people have signed a petition that has been set up to show Hertfordshire County Council that the town strongly opposes the scheme.
Despite the Town Council voting against the closure, the county council intends to temporarily close the road for six months to see what impact it has on the area.
Lara Wares, who has run the gift shop Threads for ten years, decided to set up the petition after many of her customers voiced their anger at the plan.
She said: "People are quite shocked. Almost everybody has wanted to sign the petition.
"It is frustrating because I can see that nobody in Harpenden wants this. Everybody is saying that it is ridiculous.
"We are lucky we have a vibrant high street with lots of independent shops.
"It will have a big impact on us. A lot of people just pull up and pop into the shop.
"People won’t be driving past our window display which is really important to us."
Glenn Moxley, who runs the Tobacco shop Thorns, said: "It will stop people coming into Harpenden and we need people coming into the high street.
"We don’t want to drive people into St Albans where there is plenty of car parking.
"Small businesses are struggling enough as it is. This is the last thing we need. It will cripple the businesses."
Since putting the petition in his shop Mr Moxley has filled four pages with signatures.
He said: "People aren’t happy about this.
"If it is not a problem why fix it. It is not something that needs fixing so why spend money."
One of the main issues that is concerning shop owners is the parking spaces that will be lost if the road is closed off.
There are several free half an hour bays on the stretch of road, which are in constant use by people popping into the local shops and taxis picking up and dropping off customers.
Ms Wares said: "There is hardly any parking. It really bothers people. They expect the council to create more car parking not take them away.
"In an hour you will see two or three cars in each space.
Closing the road also means that delivery vans will not be able to park up outside the stores.
Ms Wares added: "The lorries will have to park on the main road or Station Road. It will cause so much trouble."
Hertfordshire County Council has said the aim of closing the road to cars is to address safety issues at the junction with Station Road.
Councillor Michael Weaver, who has been campaigning against the proposal, said: "I’ve lived in this town for 40 years and I want it to remain as vibrant as it has always been.
"I’m not against pedestrianisation but this town was not designed for it."
John Chambers, an independent councillor for the town, added: "The whole idea of closing this part of the high street is a total nonsense.
"The people of Harpenden don’t want it, the traders don’t want it and the Town Council voted unanimously against it.
"This area operates extremely well for all concerned. Let's leave it alone and not waste money."
Copies of the petition can be found in all of the shops in Lower High Street.