A frustrated town council has hit out after over-zealous parking wardens continue to threaten Oswestry’s historic market.
Nearly 20,000 people have viewed a video of an enforcement officer booking Jason Edwards, of A. C. Edwards and Sons, on Albion Hill as his team attempted to pack up in the pouring rain following Wednesday’s market on the Bailey Head.
But along with the hundreds of comments and ‘shares’ via social media, the town council is now concerned the negative image being portrayed could put off other traders coming to Oswestry at a time when figures are already critically low.
Councillor Paul Milner, Mayor of Oswestry, said it was particularly “disappointing” as Mr Edwards was intent only on keeping his stock dry.
He said: “As a council, we are desperately trying to preserve a market tradition for the town.
“The trader in question has been part of a family business trading from the same pitch for over 60 years.
“We are struggling to attract traders and at present there is a large pool of markets with numerous vacancies to fill so every incentive has to be offered to attract, and then capture, the existing market trade.
“This incident has simply highlighted, through the many posts and shares, the difficult future for Oswestry Market and it will no doubt put off some potential traders coming to us if they know such a threat exists.”
Mr Edwards explained how they were booked as they loaded up another vehicle, adding: “It was unbelievable, after a long hard day’s graft on a market that’s struggling.
“I’m gobsmacked, I really am. The traffic warden said they didn’t know there was a market today and how did they know who I was.
“I said we had stood there every Wednesday for over 60 years. Four generations of Edwards Fruit and Veg. The parking attendant was obviously local then.”
Shropshire Council, which is responsible for the enforcement officers, came in for further criticism later on Wednesday when two officers were filmed investigating a car also parked on Albion Hill at around 6.30pm, with people asking why enforcement was necessary at that time of night.
Clerk to the town council, David Preston, said although the council respects the job wardens have to do, more must be done for both authorities to work together, especially as the town council looks to expand its markets into the town centre.
He added: “In years gone by, because of to local placements, the wardens and police understood the dynamics of the way the town centre and the markets operated.
“But it now seems each town receives a visit and enforcement takes place without regard to local circumstances and the required awareness to help the various town centres in the county in very difficult and challenging retail times.”
Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing operations manager, said they were right to issue the fine and restriction is not a new one.
She continued: “Where a motorist is present with their vehicle at the time a Civil Enforcement Officer identifies a parking contravention, the CEO will ask them to move the vehicle as opposed to issuing a PCN; but this was not an option on this occasion, as the motorist was not with their vehicle.
“While I understand the inclement weather on Wednesday may have posed some additional challenges for the market stallholders, this would not alter the fact the restrictions are in force for all.
“The stallholder ought to have used the car park at the top of Bailey Head, as this is where Oswestry Town Council has granted permission for the market stallholders to park their vehicles.”
The incident comes after the Advertizer highlighted the problem last week when resident Zoe Calloway received a fine for parking in a loading only bay while dropping off items at a charity shop.
She has since been successful in her appeal.
n Earlier this year one of the founding members of the Oswestry Farmers' Market, Jamie Ward, found himself at the centre of a similar controversy after he threatened with being booked if he didn't move his refridgerated van off the Bailey Head.
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