By Alexandra Warren
Shopkeepers have urged road chiefs to have parking bays reinstated to stop the “destruction” of their high street.
The 10 parking spaces between 436 and 470 Bromley Road, in Downham, provide much-needed access to local shops.
But Transport for London (TfL) has suspended the bays for the next 18 months to widen pavements and allow pedestrians to better socially distance.
This has resulted in a loss of trade for the surrounding stores.
Alex Klimcke, owner of Downham Autostores, said: “All business has suffered. It is a ghost town in the afternoons, simply because people are too afraid to park here.
“One customer had breakfast in the cafe and parked in the bay. His breakfast just cost him £135. It’s killing us already.
“I feel devastated that my shop which has been here servicing the community for more than 50 years will go bust.
“Our businesses are being destroyed by TfL for an experiment with no benefit. I urge anybody to come and spend the day in Downham to witness the reality for themselves.”
Mr Klimcke has sent more than 240 emails to TfL about the problem, but has only received one response, telling him that the situation will be reviewed in 18 months.
He said: “I don’t think any shop here can survive 18 weeks, let alone 18 months.”
The spots were particularly useful for elderly or disabled shoppers.
The removal of the bays has also resulted in congestion and parking problems in the surrounding area.
A petition has been launched to oppose the “pointless suspension of parking bays in Downham” and had 469 signatures at the time of writing.
It states: “The whole community will suffer if we lose all the shops due to TfL’s scheme to not allow anyone to park outside our shops.
“The community will suffer the loss of their local funeral services, food services, electric and gas supply, car parts, cycle parts, computer repairs, florist, jewellers, food services and health.
“The failed scheme has already seen traffic backed up all the way to Bromley Hill. Every spare car space in Old Bromley Road and Downham Way is now taken.
“Due to TfL ignoring us completely, I ask you to sign this petition and save our high street, many jobs and most importantly our community.”
Sam Monck, TfL’s Head of Healthy Streets Investment and Delivery, said: “Our temporary Streetspace measures, such as the pavement widening in Bromley Road, are creating extra space and helping people to maintain a safe distance from others as they return to shops and local high streets.
“We want to support businesses across London as they recover from the pandemic, and our research shows that people who walk, cycle or use public transport spend up to 30 per cent more than those who travel by car, and visit their town centre or high street more frequently.
“We continue to monitor all Streetspace schemes closely to ensure they are working as intended and changes can be made to them where necessary.”
Pictured top: Traders in Bromley Road, Downham
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