Seeing red over potential restrictions to stop pavement parking in Dunstable town centre

Red Route scheme rejected for now
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A red route scheme to combat parking issues in Dunstable's revitalised town centre has been rejected, while other options are investigated.

Central Bedfordshire's first red route was being considered for parts of High Street North, High Street South, Church Street and West Street.

More than £6m was allocated for revamping the centre of Dunstable to relieve congestion and make it more pedestrian friendly.

Red route have been introduced in Luton town centre, but won't be coming to Dunstable just yet (photo: Tony Margiocchi)Red route have been introduced in Luton town centre, but won't be coming to Dunstable just yet (photo: Tony Margiocchi)
Red route have been introduced in Luton town centre, but won't be coming to Dunstable just yet (photo: Tony Margiocchi)

Highways improvements have been introduced in three phases, and included street decluttering and pavement widening, as well as the removal of bollards and guard rails.

"Since this process, there've been issues with footway parking on these renovated areas," according to a report to a Central Bedfordshire Council traffic management meeting on March 29.

"This leads to damage to the footpaths requiring repeated maintenance visits and resulting in substantial extra costs," warned the report.

"Parking on pedestrian areas may also lead to damage to equipment buried below the surface. It also causes issues for anyone in a wheelchair and the visually impaired, as routes are blocked.

"The carriageway layout involves bus stops, lay-bys, lanes and parking bays set back from the road, along with several controlled crossing points."

Red routes prevent vehicles stopping as an alternative to ‘no waiting’ and ‘no loading’ restrictions, and provide a route free of stationary traffic, said the report.

"They're intended to be used strategically to deal with traffic problems assessed on a whole route basis. Red route restrictions may be enforced by CBC parking enforcement, with one method by use of CCTV.

"Based on the comments received further work would be required if a red route proposal was considered to be a viable approach."

Senior highways officer Charlotte Dunham told the meeting: "Dunstable town centre is subject to ongoing highway and public realm improvements, and the work is due to be completed around mid-April.

"The removal of street furniture created the ability for motorists to park on the footpaths and stop in places where they shouldn't," she explained.

"The idea of a red route was being floated as a potential solution. A plan was drawn up and we consulted on a short section for West Street to Church Street and slightly longer lengths of High Street North and High Street South.

"There were six responses, with five clear objections. As a red route prevents stopping and loading under highways regulations, and there are objections, a public meeting would be required."

She suggested looking at alternative measures and a review of the area once the scheme is finished, and asked for an increase in CBC parking enforcement.

Conservative Arlesey councillor Ian Dalgarno said: "Considerable investment has gone into Dunstable town centre. There are issues there with vehicles parking.

"That's why we brought forward this proposal for a red route. I'm grateful for the representations.

"We've a number of unresolved objections from shopkeepers worried about the viability of their businesses. This would prevent all stopping, loading and unloading, not like a double yellow line.

"This would be quite a draconian measure regarding what the public and businesses could or couldn't do. I'm aware of the officer comments that we should pursue other avenues.

"We shouldn't consider proceeding with the red route given the level of unresolved objections, which we'd need to take to a public inquiry.

"We'll meet with highways officers, the enforcement team and ward members to go through all the options during the first week of May."