Kent red routes could create 'ghost town' as shop owner claims to lose thousands of pounds

Business owners in Rainham claimed a controversial traffic management scheme has led to a fall in footfall
-Credit: (Image: LDRS)

A business owner has claimed a controversial traffic management scheme is costing him thousands of pounds because customers can’t see his shops. The introduction of double red lines and additional loading bays by Medway Council along A2 Rainham High Street has been met with firm disapproval from Steven Goddard.

The 55-year-old, who runs several shops along the busy main road, says the bay outside his shop has drastically reduced footfall for his shops, resulting in a sharp loss of trade. He also claimed the changes pose a safety risk for pedestrians as the bay is being used by delivery drivers loading and unloading for shops further down the busy high street.

Mr Goddard told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “The combination of the traffic and the red route has made a dramatic change to our businesses and it’s hard, very hard at the moment. It was like someone coming and turning a tap off – we’re down 30 per cent in numbers and, in financial terms, probably £1,000 a week.

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“I would like to know whether or not the council actually did an impact analysis on the local businesses that were obviously going to be impacted – that would be very interesting reading.”

Mr Goddard, who operates FAB Aesthetics, OMG Shakes and Cakes, and Tanz Tanning, said lorries making deliveries for many shops on the High Street sit in the loading bay in front of his shops for extended periods, hiding them from view from the other side of the pavement.

He also said the location of the loading bay means deliveries for places such as The Greedy Banker, Pizza Hut, or Floral Times take longer to complete. This is because delivery drivers can only stop in the bay and then wheel or carry deliveries the length of Rainham High Street.

He added the type of bay outside his shop - which only allows loading and unloading, and not parking for a maximum of 30 minutes as some do - which means customers are being put off from visiting. This is a high street, and the hub of a high street is about people coming in and using it, and it being accessible for everybody,” he said. “If this continues it’s going to make Rainham into a ghost town.”

Steven Goddard reported that shops cannot be seen due to new the impact of the traffic management scheme
Steven Goddard reported that shops cannot be seen due to new the impact of the traffic management scheme -Credit:LDRS

The “red routes” are essentially a stricter version of double yellow lines, which means there is no stopping, parking, or loading at any time, except in specifically allocated bays, or for drivers with blue disabled badges. The routes are enforced with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras and then cars that are identified as breaking the rules are double-checked by a council officer. There are five red routes in Medway which came into force on May 20.

These are on Corporation Street and Star Hill in Rochester, The Brook and Best Street in Chatham, and A2 Rainham High Street. Anyone caught breaking the new rules will be fined £70, reduced to £35 if paid within a certain time period, but for the first six months of the scheme, warning letters will be sent for a first offence, rather than fines.

The council consulted with businesses about the implementation of the routes and adapted some of its designs to add more loading bays where traders said they were needed. However, Mr Goddard is far from happy and says the rules for the bay in front of his shop means customers can’t park there and the need for other businesses on the High Street to use the bay for loading and unloading has caused a significant decline in business.

He opposed the introduction of the red routes during the consultation phase, saying they are more appropriate for dense metropolitan areas. Since they were implemented he said he has tried to get more information from the council.

Mr Goddard continued: “It was as if my voice wasn’t being listened to and anything I said wasn’t really going to make any difference at all, whatsoever. This could easily be a bay where it could be a 30-minute bay for people that may want to come in, use a nail bar, have a milkshake, grab some chicken.

“There appears to be an anomaly in the parking policies with Rainham getting restricted parking but Parkwood Green shopping centre not far away has free parking spaces for as long as you want. We’re already seeing some of the big businesses going because they can’t justify staying in the precinct, this is going to make Rainham into a ghost town, which will affect house prices and that worries me.”

When asked what he wants to see happen, Mr Goddard said he wants the council to change the bay to allow drivers to park there for up to 30 minutes to help reduce the impact. A Medway Council spokesperson responded: “Red routes have been introduced in five locations across Medway, where yellow lines were already in place, to help enforce existing traffic restrictions and tackle congestion on Medway’s roads.

“Following feedback from public consultations, five additional clearly signposted loading and unloading bays have been introduced, as well as designated parking places, and we will retain an open dialogue with businesses moving forward.”

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