Progress on Biggleswade parking is a ‘drop in the ocean’ say councillor and trade spokesman

Frank Foster

Frank Foster - Credit: Archant

Central Bedfordshire Council has begun to address ongoing concerns raised over parking shortages and levels of trade in Biggleswade, but advocates for the town say their pledge is really just ‘a drop in the ocean’.

Dire warnings being made for years about the challenge facing the town centre and the need to improve parking, traffic flow and conditions for traders were presented to the council’s Biggleswade Joint Committee last year by town councillor Madeline Russell and Biggleswade Chamber of Trade.

Now Central Beds has agreed to act on some of the recommendations by extending the waiting times for free on-street parking from one to three hours on two streets and consulting on changes on others.

It hopes this will allow shoppers to spend more time in the town and hopefully increase footfall and spending at the shops.

The council has also announced permanent changes to traffic flow following a trial one-way system set up last year.

This means Back Street, St Johns Street and Sun Street will remain as a one-way system to try to improve traffic flows around the town.

The Baulk, however, will be reverted back to two-way traffic.

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CBC has also now agreed to put together a project brief with a view to gathering evidence for a new ‘marketing strategy’ to help ensure the long term prosperity of the town centre.

But town councillor Frank Foster and Chamber of Trade chairman Martin Thomas believe the changes are a little more than a ‘drop in the ocean’.

They say CBC have delayed for years in solving town’s parking problems and are not taking into account how the town is being affected by new housing developments being approved .

They say more on-street parking still needs to be made available for free – and that in the town’s free off-street car parks, like that at Rose Lane, restrictions need to be put in place so they don’t get filled up by commuters. Only these kind of changes, they say, will encourage investors to come to the town.

The Chamber of Trade is arranging a meeting in late March at the Stratton House Hotel to gather the views of traders, with a view to going back to the council with a bigger campaign.