Waltham Forest Council has apologised for removing parking bays in order to help pedestrians social distance – over a year too late.
During the first lockdown in 2020, all 15-minute parking bays in Wood Street, Walthamstow, were suspended for social distancing.
But the bays’ painted lines were untouched until workmen, instructed by the council, burned them off the pavement on September 22 this year.
Local shop owners, confused and annoyed at the unexpected change, were pleased to see men return a week later to repaint the lines.
Pepi Christou, 62, who has run The Brother’s Fish Bar for 30 years, said: “The man said to us ‘this should have been done during lockdown’. That was 15 months ago!
“They’ve spent money on getting them to burn them off and five days later putting them back.
“I think it’s people at the council working from home – no one thinks things through.”
Pepi said the loss of some of the street’s short-term parking, coupled with one of the two local car parks being used as a COVID-19 test centre, caused “chaos” for retailers.
George Protopapas, 63, manager of Pets Corner, agreed that parking near his work, which he often needs to transport animals, was increasingly difficult.
He said: “It’s killing business. We’ve been here for 20 years [but] if it continues like this, I don’t see how we’re going to be able to carry on.
“Even with my permit, I sometimes can’t open the shop because I’m looking for a parking space. I can’t walk fish around.”
Cllr Clyde Loakes, deputy leader at Waltham Forest Council, said: “Parking bays were originally suspended over a year ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, so as to allow greater space for social distancing.
“I believe that a small number of parking bays were accidentally removed from use late last week in a certain part of Wood Street.
“This was a mistake that has since been corrected. I can only apologise for this error and any distress it may have caused.
“Following a recent review of street parking on Wood Street, all COVID-19 suspensions have now been lifted.”