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Oct 24 2012

Blocked Pavements in Town Centres

Cllr Jerry Miles (Labour, Roxeth) wrote a brief report on the issues around traders blocking pavements with their wares in South Harrow. The article, and the following comment, makes interesting reading:

One of the issues raised at the last quarterly meeting was regarding some shops in the Northolt Road displaying goods outside the premises. As a result, during the summer, with the agreement of the SHARRA officers, I undertook a survey of all commercial units in the Northolt Road between Northolt Park Station and South Harrow Underground Station, noting those who have displays outside the premises.

The pavement widths along the Northolt Road vary significantly along different parts of the road. Additionally, some shops own the forecourt immediately outside their shop.

The Council policy has been one of “common sense”, usually allowing shops a metre to display goods outside their shops. However, this may vary in specific circumstances. Council Officers recently inspected all of Northolt Road in this respect. There is also a case pending in the Supreme Court where a local Authority is being challenged over the imposition of restrictions (the case is not being heard until April 2013). In parallel with this, Harrow will review it’s policies and the way they are implemented. I have also been working with Cllr
Graham Henson of Roxbourne Ward on this issue.

My findings show a total of 146 commercial units (shops, restaurants/takeaways, businesses) in the Northolt Road. Of these, 22 have some sort of display outside the shop. I have excluded shops which only have boards advertising the shop or items within the shop, and have counted those shops which have subdivided the premises as one unit.

Particular concerns had been expressed about the following shops: 303 – 301, Abis; A1 Cash & Carry; & 233 -231, Shankar Superstore. My survey shows space between the outside displays and the kerb of 9ft 4ins; 6ft 8ins; and 8ft respectively (the Shankar figure is to the bus stop). As a general access guide the width of a wheelchair is approx. 2ft.

My own view is that it would be draconian and in fact rather ridiculous to impose a blanket ban, as some shops with goods displayed outside have yards of space between the goods and the kerb. I am keen, however, to hear views on this topic. Do members feel all outside displays should be banned, irrespective of how extensive the display is and the width of the pavement? Should the Council charge every business in Harrow to display goods on the pavement? Or should we maintain a “common sense” approach that allow displays to a maximum limit and only imposes restrictions where the pavement is especially narrow? Do we differentiate between food displays and shops that have chairs outside e.g. Costa Coffee, La Brioche, and the Sunshine Café?

Local resident, Neville Hughes, who has extensive experience of working with blind and partially-sighted people,disputes the findings, and has challenged the three Roxeth councillors (Cllrs Miles, Idaikkadar and Ray) to walk along both sides of the Northolt Road blindfolded, so that they understand the problems that people with deteriorating eyesight face every single day. To date, this challenge hasn’t been taken up.

You can contact Cllr Miles on 020 8723 7531, Cllr Idaikkadar on 07812 028 741 and Cllr Ray on 020 8869 9242 if you’d like to encourage this campaign.

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