Council takes action against those deliberately flouting the law in Shrewsbury’s historic The Square
Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing service has recently brought a number of successful prosecutions under the Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council Act 1984, which makes it an offence to use or leave a vehicle in the protected area of The Square in Shrewsbury.
The council responded to complaints received from residents and local businesses that the protected area of The Square was being used as a car park, with evidence received of numerous cars being parked around Old Market Hall. As a result officers, through a campaign of advice, written warnings and ultimately a series of prosecutions, have sought to change motorists’ behaviour in this area.
Clifford Platt (Tailors & Outfitters) Ltd, that trade in The Square as “Pockets”, was represented in Court on 19 November 2018 by Company Director, Mr Paul Platt. He pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to five separate offences of using a vehicle in the protected area between 23 March and 23 May 2018. The company had received written advice on two occasions prior to 23 March 2018 informing it of the legal restrictions in place, with officers also speaking directly to Mr Platt. Mr Platt was personally found guilty of one offence of using a vehicle in the protected area. The Court issued fines and costs totalling £2,220 for all offences.
In addition, a Pockets employee, Thomas Simmonds, received a conditional discharge when he was found guilty of two offences occurring on 23 March and 28 March. Mr Simmonds told officers that he was acting under instruction from his employer when the offences were committed.
In a further case, Adrian Monahan was also found guilty of leaving his vehicle in The Square on 3 April 2018, after a warning had previously been issued. He was sentenced on 22 November 2018 and has been ordered to pay fines and costs amounting to £315.
Grant Tunnadine, investigations team manager for the trading standards and licensing service, said:-
“I would like to remind residents, businesses and visitors to The Square about the need to adhere to the controls that are in place. It is a criminal offence to use or leave a vehicle within the protected area of The Square unless it is in accordance with a permission granted by the council or for a permitted purpose in accordance with the applicable Traffic Regulation Order. This Order only permits loading and unloading to take place within the protected area outside of the hours of 10am to 4pm; explanatory signs are clearly visible to motorists before they enter the protected area.
“Unfortunately, the number of motorists choosing to use or leave their vehicle within this protected area started to increase towards the end of 2017 and early 2018. It is often the case that where one vehicle is left in an area, other motorists think it is acceptable to do the same, thereby promoting poor compliance. It is regrettable that the advice and warnings issued have not deterred some motorists. The recent prosecutions send a very clear message that where motorists are unwilling to comply, we will not hesitate to investigate with a view to legal proceedings. It is disappointing that further prosecutions are currently being considered.
“Officers will continue to respond to complaints and monitor the use of the area by motorists. Anyone using or leaving their vehicle can expect to be contacted by officers.”
Joyce Barrow, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for communities, waste and regulatory services, added:-
“The Square is a focal point of Shrewsbury and plays a significant role in attracting tourists to the area. For these reasons, it is rightly controlled as a pedestrianised area. By simply observing the signs in place, motorists will easily know what is and is not permitted. I strongly encourage motorists to be responsible and to adhere to the restrictions in place. It is inevitable that with more vehicles being used and left inconsiderately in this area, pedestrian safety is at risk. I fully support the actions taken by our officers, which has significantly improved the situation. Any business that needs to load and unload goods within the protected area can still do so at times when The Square is less busy; before 10am and after 4pm.”
Businesses can seek further advice from the trading standards and licensing service on 0345 678 9000. If anyone has concerns about the way in which vehicles are being used or left in The Square, information can be given anonymously to the service on 0345 678 9000 and will always be treated in line with the council’s information governance policies.