Sheffield United coach parking is 'killing small firms' and blocking emergency access, owners say
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Up to 20 buses park on narrow Harwood Street for hours, according to Sarah Kettle, of The Kettle Club gym - but long before that 'Road Closed’ signs appear at either end.
Owners have been trapped in a car park, some miss out on passing trade and ‘numerous residents’ are unable to get in or out, she added. The problem occurs when Sheffield United play at home, which is more than once a fortnight due to cup matches and rematches.
Sarah said she had been forced to cancel clients and lost income which was “very stressful”. The venue is used by seven teachers, who do 121s and classes - and she fears they could leave too.
She said: “Clients keep being put off and cancelling. In the last six months I’ve lost 12. If this carries on I will have to fold. We’ve tried to get through to them but they just see us as a nuisance.”
Affected firms on Harwood Street include Blue Collar Club Tattoos, Cathy's Creative sewing classes, G&L Printers, One Stop Motorist Centre and DJ Green (antiques storage).
Sarah added: “They never let us know that they are blocking the entrance so we can get out. When we approach stewards it's clear we are seen as a nuisance. Billy from the tattoos heard them on the radio say 'if it's them lot over the road again, just tell them there is nothing that we can do, it is the way it is'.”
Residents and owners are also worried about a lack of access for emergency services.
Sarah said: “We have repeatedly raised the issue but feel as if we’re being passed between the club, the police, the council and a traffic management company. We complained after the road was blocked during the Stoke match on January 14. But despite assurances it happened again when Hull visited Sheffield on January 20. We also put forward an alternative suggestion but they won’t engage.”
Coun Mazher Iqbal, chair of the transport, regeneration and climate policy committee at Sheffield City Council, said he would meet business owners.
He added: “We have been working closely with South Yorkshire Police on the parking of coaches during match days at Bramall Lane, making sure public safety is at the forefront of our decision process. Following concerns from businesses about where these coaches park, we will arrange to meet with them to understand their concerns, and working with the police, identify solutions where possible.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said safety took priority.
She added: “We understand the frustrations expressed by the businesses along Harwood Street in relation to match day parking. A number of decisions have to be made ahead of any fixture to ensure the safety of all those attending or visiting the stadium and those in the surrounding area. Extensive plans are drawn up and reviewed at the Safety Advisory Group, of which we are a partner. Safety has to remain the primary concern in every decision made.”
A Sheffield United spokesman said officials had been talking to the police, council and business owners to produce “an amiable solution".