HAYES Town traders and shoppers have started a campaign calling for the high street to be fully opened up to traffic.
More than 1,500 people have signed a petition asking for the council to reinstate the thoroughfare joining Station Road and Botwell Lane, 20 years after the local authority made the town centre a pedestrian walkway.
Since then, business owners have complained that the diversion killed trade and led to rising levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in the centre, and they are now joining forces to try to get the town put back the way it was.
Santokh Dhillon, 53, has run Khushi Jewellers in Coldharbour Lane for ten years.
“[The town centre’s design] serves no purpose. At the moment it is artificially divided for no good reason. There is no advantage for anyone.
“It’s very simple; we are tired of losing business. We feel isolated, and the change we want would stabilise the area dramatically.
“All of the shopkeepers are pulling together on this, because we need to act now.”
In 1992, Hillingdon Council fully pedestrianised the northern end of Station Road, home to many of the centre’s stores, and blocked off the through-road to Botwell Lane and Coldharbour Lane, the town’s other shopping parade.
The move coincided with the opening of the Hayes by-pass, and was intended to prevent motorists using the town centre route as a cut-through to the M4.
In 2002, the council was forced to do a partial U-turn and reopen Station Road to cars, but Station Road was kept a dead-end.
Crown Close, a righthand turn-off Station Road just before the shops, was made a buses-only route, and another solution being put forward is to open this up to cars.
Town resident and charity worker Guruji Singh, of the Kali Mata Mandir group, is right behind the initiative. He said: “Hayes Town has suffered a lot since it was closed off. We want to make Hayes Town world class. It’s a long-term project, and we will need all the help we can get.”
Hayes Town Partnership chairman David Brough added: “I welcome
the fact that this debate has started, and the views expressed in this petition will be important in the long run.
“There is no easy fix, and I still have an open mind. Some people like it the way it is now, and some would like to see cars banned from the town altogether, so what we would need is a wide-ranging consultation and a proper assessment of how any changes would affect Hayes.”
* Do you think Hayes should be fully de-pedestrianised, or do you like it the way it is? Send your thoughts via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.