OPINION: Market Place is honeytrap for parking wardens

NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.
NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.

By George Gunby

During the Arts Festival I’ve spent a great deal of time at Number 28 on the Market Place and it has been something of a revelation.

I certainly hadn’t realised the volume of traffic that drives on to and through the Market Place.

The Coppice car park is a great facility for the town, giving residents and visitors alike free parking. However, the Market Place itself is a real issue. The Festival has attracted a number of newcomers to Belper.

I’ve spoken to quite a few of them and they have enjoyed the “Belper experience” but a typical story went as follows. Liz and Frank recently moved to the area, to Denby in fact.

At the Morrisons island they followed the sign for the Coppice car park and turned on to the Market Place. Over a dozen cars were parked and they thought that the Market Place was the Coppice, and they parked.

After having a meal and then made their way back to Number 28.

They were stopped in their tracks by the sight of two wardens issuing parking tickets.

The wardens explained the situation. Liz and Frank, and several others, didn’t mind the “no parking” restriction.

What they objected to was the poor signage. Yes, there are large signs at the entrance to the Market Place but every driver is very busy watching the road and the pedestrian crossing and is likely to miss them.

On the Market Place itself, adjacent to Number 28 is a tiny no parking sign attached to railings.

Things are further complicated by the private parking. You may or may not know that brass studs outline private parking on the Market Place and if you are a visitor and see cars parked it’s an easy assumption to arrive at that you can park on the Market Place.

The problem is further compunded by “parking web sites” such as Parkopedia, 192.com and Carparkmaps.co.uk who list the Market Place as a car park.

The signage HAS to be improved. It is confusing on so many levels.

I have been told that the signage is the responsibility of Derbyshire County Council. If that’s the case then I urge you to contact your County Councillor, Borough Councillor and Town Councillor and raise the issue. They need to do better.