Councillors, police and National Trust address problem of visitor parking in Church Stretton

Councillors, police and representatives from the National Trust held an urgent meeting to address problems caused by visitor parking in an area near Shropshire's Carding Mill Valley beauty spot.

Cars parked in Church Stretton blocked pavements as visitors flocked to the town in May
Cars parked in Church Stretton blocked pavements as visitors flocked to the town in May

In response to an ongoing problem in the Church Stretton area, Shropshire Councillors Lee Chapman and David Evans along with Church Stretton Mayor, Councillor Bob Welch, have held a meeting with the National Trust and West Mercia Police to agree arrangements for managing high levels of visitor parking around the town.

Carding Mill Valley has seen an influx of visitors since Covid-19 travel rules were relaxed to allow unrestricted travel within England for exercise.

Due to the limited open parking at the site near Church Stretton, visitors have parked their cars around the town, parking on double yellow lines, and blocking pavements, side roads and driveways, causing problems for local residents.

On the last Bank Holiday Monday, the town was inundated with an estimated 400 cars parked in residential streets once available parking at Carding Mill Valley was full.

Reportedly, a number of visitors have also been flouting social distancing guidelines, causing concern to local residents, many of whom are elderly and in a high-risk category for Covid-19.

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The meeting, held on June 17, looked at how overflow parking could be managed and how problems for local residents could be addressed.

A spokesperson for Church Stretton Town Council said: "All the councillors present made very clear the high degree of fear and anger felt by residents, as a consequence of irresponsible visitor behaviour, carrying the risk of Covid-19 infection to a community with a high number of vulnerable elderly residents.

Collaborate

"The National Trust committed to increasing the parking capacity in Carding Mill Valley as the social distancing requirements are reduced, and bringing back more National Trust volunteers to work on and off-site, supporting traffic re-direction and overflow parking, away from residential areas, to fields being made available by a local farmer.

"Shropshire Council highways officers committed to reviewing the on-street parking restrictions throughout the areas affected by irresponsible visitor parking.

"The local neighbourhood police will collaborate with this work and the local Superintendent has agreed to revise manning levels on Bank Holidays."

The meeting will re-convene next month to review progress on implementing these measures.

Marcus Halliwell, National Trust general manager for south Shropshire, said: “The National Trust is committed to working with all local stakeholders to provide safe access to this much loved beautiful countryside whilst, at the same time, safeguarding the interests of the local community.”

Councillor Chapman said: “It is vital that we all work together to safely accommodate visitors into our community, and that they respect the communities and the beautiful countryside we are all so fortunate to have access to.”

Councillor Welch added: “The Town Council welcomes the commitment of all the relevant agencies to address what has become an ever-increasing imposition on local residents, given particular urgency at this critical phase in the pandemic.”

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