Our council is killing high street with 'bonkers' 3ft planter boxes

EXCLUSIVE Our council has killed the high street with ridiculous 3ft planters – where are we supposed to park?

  • Business owners in Otley, Yorkshire said the planters have left trade ‘dying’ 
  • Boxes installed as ‘aesthetically pleasing’ alternative during social distancing
  • Locals ‘hate’ the planters because they make picking up shopping difficult

Residents in a quaint market town have blasted their council for lining the high street with 3ft planters and double yellow lines.

Business owners in Otley, West Yorkshire say the situation is a ‘nightmare’, with the ‘bonkers’ boxes full of shrubs blocking parking spaces for shoppers and killing their trade.

Others claimed the planters have caused damage to their cars because they narrow the road and cause prangs.

Shopkeepers also raised concerns for disabled and elderly residents who struggle to access the shops because they cannot park outside.

Leeds City Council (LCC) say the boxes are ‘aesthetically pleasing’ but locals claim the high street is ‘dying’ as a result.

Residents and traders have hit back at Leeds City Council for keeping the planters in place in Otley high street, West Yorkshire

Business owners  say the situation is a ‘nightmare’, with planters blocking parking spaces on the main road

The planters, pictured lining the high street in Otley, were installed during the Covid pandemic

During Covid parking spaces across the country were quietly replaced by seats and cycle bays called ‘Parklets’ as authorities waged war against Britain’s motorists.

The troublesome wooden structures often extended off the curbs into two parking spaces to give pedestrians more space.

They were blasted by campaigners who called them ‘absolutely crackers’ and accused councils of making life ‘as miserable as possible for drivers’. 

It Otley planters were introduced as a social distancing measure to keep people two metres apart, but have remained in place ever since.

Steve Nelson, owner of The 20p Shop on the high street, said they are going to ‘kill off’ trade on the high street.  

He explained: ‘The planters stop people coming into the shops.

‘People who are disabled or old can’t park by the shops because of the planters. 

‘When people are donating stuff to my shop, or the charity shops along here, they have to park across the street and run back and forth with the donations. 

‘It’s okay if you’re like 20 years old not 75, it’s a nightmare.

‘Otley used to be a vibrant market town with stalls all around – it’s dying and that is a very large part due to the council’s inability to assist the traders here.’ 

Shop assistant Sue McKie, 56, said the scheme was ‘bonkers’.

Shen added: ‘we don’t need them and everyone hates them – it makes dropping stuff off and picking stuff up extra tricky. 

‘They simply make no sense, just being here. The pandemic ended two years ago, but we have these things now as a legacy to try and kill off the very businesses that survived.’

Melissa Widdowson, manager of the neighboring charity shop, Cancer Research UK,  said there was now ‘nothing encouraging people to come to Otley’ because of the lack of parking.

Locals have blasted the planters with one resident claiming saying ‘everyone hates them’

Shoppers say the barricades in Otley high street makes packing their items away hard work

She said: ‘It’s a nightmare for delivery drivers and other dropping stuff off – many a time the binmen cannot park and then the rubbish remains.

‘There’s nothing encouraging people to come to Otley with parking so tight and people start moving them and nobody knows if you can park in the space or not.

‘Years ago, both sides of the street used to be full with market traders, but lots of the traders are not there this year’.

Carol Robinson, a retired teacher and resident of the town said: ‘It’s hard enough on businesses in a cost of living crisis, but when things are in place to stop people picking up and dropping off at the shops – that’s just madness.

‘Sainsburys gets very busy with parking and people can’t just stop off and pick up stuff like they used to.’

Ken Norrington, 81, said: ‘These giant beds are not even a thing of beauty, I have no idea what anyone thinks they are adding to the town.’

Former mayor of the town, Nigel Francis, said it makes no sense to have rows of planters with double yellow lines inside. 

He said: ‘They [the council] seem to have a fixation for making the town traffic free, but that makes it almost customer free for some of the shops – there is no appreciation of what they are doing to a once thriving market town.

‘Things like this on a main street in a busy town, just doesn’t help the traders at all.’

Abdul Celal Arik, who owns Mardini Café, claimed his car had been bumped into four times in the last year because of the planters narrowing the road.

He said: ‘My car insurance has gone up – I’ve been hit in the rear of the car twice on the back wheel arch and on the driver’s side front and that’s all down to the planters making the road extra narrow.

‘We are near the countryside and the people round here have tractors and big truck and these things narrow the road – it’s ridiculous when they should be encouraging customers to the businesses here.

‘The other day some big thing with a spacecraft style engine was coming down the road – I’ve been here around 18 months and these things should have gone by now.’

At Yorkshire Trading Company, manager Matthew Hampshire, 46, said: ‘Nobody wants them [the planters] – they get in the way.

‘People come in here at this time of year for Christmas trees, but they often stop buying them when they realise there is nobody available to help carry their shopping 300 yards up the street to a parking spot.

‘They have just painted in some brand new double yellow lines and that’s lunacy as they are inside a wall of planters. It’s all ridiculous and no good for businesses at all.’

Speaking in March last year, a  spokesperson for Leeds City Council said the planters were first put in as a more ‘aesthetically pleasing’ alternative to social distancing restrictions erected during the pandemic.

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