Joshua Ritchie appears very relaxed, considering he’s had to address Shaftesbury Town Council over a yellow-line road issue that would make most residents see red.
Joshua is often unable to drive in or out of the courtyard behind Corita Rose, his Bell Street textile business. Some days, he can’t access his archway for hours on end. “Pretty much a whole afternoon waiting to get out or in,” Joshua said.
Unfortunately, when people park opposite his entrance on the old Budgens store side of Bell Street, Joshua can’t manoeuvre down his driveway. “People are parking on the opposite side of the street and because of the tight turning circle of coming out of the archway, if there is a car parked opposite you can’t get out.”
Joshua doesn’t think that most drivers are being inconsiderate. They just don’t realise that parking opposite the archway blocks his access. “From looking at it you would think that you could come out of the archway. It’s very small. People might not think it is being used.”
And he says disabled badge users can cause him problems when they park for extended periods, because they are allowed to stop on the single yellow line. “They park and put their blue signs up, which I have no problem with, but the problem is there is no clear time for when they are going to come back. They can be there for three hours. You can be waiting that long to get out of the archway or waiting to come in.”
It’s a problem for his business. “We’re a working business so I am dropping things off and taking things to the upholsterers. With a disabled badge you can pretty much park on a single or double yellow line. It is unenforceable unless they are deemed to be causing an obstruction, which in technical terms they are. The only way I could get it enforced would be to call the police and ask them to tow the vehicle away, which is extreme.”
Joshua has been patiently waiting for authorities to act for almost five years. Now he thinks that paint may solve his problem. Bell Street will be resurfaced next year and Joshua is hoping that markings on the road will end the restriction on his access. “The only solution we came up with is to put in a loading bay – the only thing that disabled drivers cannot park in. It would be for cars and vans for unloading for a specific limit of 20 minutes,” said Joshua. “The Highways Officer said to me next year would be the appropriate time to do it because it wouldn’t need any more money.”
Joshua says the loading bay wouldn’t be big and would be marked with a sign. “As somebody pointed out, you might just have a van parking there for the rest of the afternoon but at least it is technically enforceable. Generally people like FedEx, UPS and delivery vans park, unload, do their thing and go. Another benefit is that our neighbours at the Arts Centre have many people who come to put on performances and arrive with a truck with stage sets and costumes. Somewhere they can pull up will be beneficial.” Jenny Parker, Chairman of The Arts Centre spoke at Tuesday’s Council Meeting in support of Joshua’s loading bay request.
Joshua says that his neighbouring Bell Street businesses may also benefit. “We have an opticians, dry cleaners, vegetable shop and pet shop. All of these businesses need deliveries. Bell Street has a consistent amount of trucks.”
After explaining his predicament to the Town Council on Tuesday, Joshua hopes that the Town Hall team will now liaise with Dorset Highways and find a solution, whether it’s his preferred loading bay option, or something else. He’s keeping his fingers crossed and, remarkably, he’s still smiling. “I’ve been trying to do this for five years so I can wait a little bit longer.”