Staffordshire Police stopped more than 40 drivers attempting to enter High Street during a recent two-hour patrol – more than one car every three minutes. And they have warned that they will take enforcement action if the problem continues.
The street is covered by a public space protection order, banning vehicles from accessing it except for loading, unloading and emergencies, and further restrictions apply between 10am and 4pm each day.
Members of Stone Town Council have backed police enforcement and said drivers breaking the rules have been a long-running problem in the High Street. They have also called for Staffordshire County Council’s highways team to consider the potential impact of vehicles using the High Street when making recommendations on planning applications for takeaways in the town centre.
Councillors are particularly worried about vehicles using the High Street as a rat run after 4pm when children are walking home from school and other town centre visitors are shopping or enjoying refreshments in outdoor seating areas at Stone’s cafes and drinking establishments.
Councillor Jill Hood, speaking at Tuesday’s town council meeting, said: “Last Wednesday I met with two highways officers and we began our tour standing by the Crown and Anchor. One of the officers couldn’t believe her eyes watching all the cars pulling in, people nipping out to use the cash machine and nipping down the High Street. At one point there were so many cars there the other cars couldn’t get past.
“I explained to the officers about the speed of the cars coming down being particularly dangerous when you have children and elderly people in the High Street. Something really needs to be done.
“We also see lots of scooters. My friend and I observed an elderly lady missed by inches by an electric scooter.
“It’s not legal to be riding these scooters around. They’re not for use unless they are in some type of rental scheme.
“A number of businesses are worried about disabled people not being able to park outside service businesses and that is something we have got to discuss. I would be happy to discuss that with businesses, but parking late at night outside B&M is rife and they are not people with blue badges – they are people who want to nip in and out.”
Councillor Ian Fordham said: “I think most of us would agree the traffic in the High Street is a problem and has been getting worse over the past few months. It is caused by drivers ignoring the rules and putting the public at risk.
“There are car parks all around the town centre if needed. We don’t want to see the High Street used as a rat run. We have had no end of complaints from residents and I don’t think we can allow the situation to deteriorate further.
“I understand the police have explained the rules to drivers they found using the High Street and are ready to start taking enforcement action. I propose we support it and advise residents of the action.
“In my opinion public safety has to come before personal convenience of drivers.”