‘Action now to halt Stevenage car park tragedies’ – Market traders call for more safety measures after 43-year-old man’s death

The St George's Way car park

The St George's Way car park - Credit: Archant

Traders at Stevenage Indoor Market are demanding immediate improvements in safety measures after a man plunged to his death from the roof of a multi-storey car park during opening hours.

CCTV is in operation at the car park 24 hours a day

CCTV is in operation at the car park 24 hours a day - Credit: Archant

A 43-year-old man died after falling from the top storey of the St George’s Way car park – which occupies the same building as the indoor market – shortly after 5pm last Wednesday.

An air ambulance landed on the roof of the building, pictured left, and paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Traders at the market have been shocked by what happened, with James Waterman and Narrinder Kumar demanding immediate action from Stevenage Borough Council – which runs the car park – to prevent the same thing happening again.

James said: “Our first thoughts go out to him and his family, but it was still daylight hours and a lot of people go and stand outside there to have a cigarette.

“You can’t help but think what could have happened if he had landed on someone.

“It’s had a really big impact on people here. The atmosphere has been very difficult since it happened.”

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Narrinder believes the security systems at the car park are out of date. He said: “The CCTV cameras are pathetic up there and just point down the middle. They are not going to detect anybody and they are only recorded, not checked as a live feed.”

The pair said they are fed up with the council imposing strict rules on the market traders when it cannot police the building as a whole.

James added: “The council doesn’t care about this place and the building has had it.

“They make sure we can’t put our goods outside the grey lines painted on the floor and if we don’t comply with the rules we often get letters giving us 28 days notice to leave, but someone can still get up there. No-one should have been able to have that kind of access.”

Shoppers told the Comet there should be higher railings and netting on the roof to limit access.

It is the second non-suspicious death in the town centre in two months after Andrew Guy, 25, was pronounced dead in Market Place on April 4 after suffering multiple injuries.

In July 2013 a 16-year-old boy suffered multiple injuries after falling from the same car park and in March 2008 a man was talked down by police.

The council says access is not restricted because it is a public car park, but CCTV cameras operate and are monitored 24 hours a day.

Car park staff work between 7am and midnight and an emergency response service operates outside of those hours.

Councillor Ralph Raynor, who is in charge of transport and the economy at the council, said: “The council takes the safety and security of its car parks very seriously.

“We carry out regular patrols and operate CCTV cameras at the St George’s Way multi-storey car park.

“Regrettably, we can’t reasonably prevent all such tragic acts from occurring, but we remain committed to making further changes to current arrangements as and when they are identified and deemed to be practicable.”

Help is available for anyone contemplating self-harm or suicide by calling the North Herts Samaritans on 116 123. Calls are confidential.