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There is further frustration for shoppers and businesses along Churchfield Road. Major remodelling and widening of the pavement outside Londis near Acton Central Station (including, it seems, two parking bays) continues apace, but there is no sign of when the long-promised stop-and-shop parking bays outside Paint might start operating.

After months of protest earlier this year against "disproportionate" measures against shoppers in Churchfield Road, local businesses banded together to petition Ealing Council and to try to find a solution. Meanwhile, parking fines or the threat of getting one chased many customers away and some businesses said they might have to close down if the situation did not improve.

At the Acton Central Ward Forum meeting, it was decided that the best solution would be to give shoppers a free half hour in the bays, and to make them "no return within 2 hours" to stop anyone hogging them.

However, shopkeepers along Churchfield are not amused by signs, which were installed in mid-October, informing motorists that the parking bays are 'pay and display'. They appeared with a ticket machine in, apparently, the wrong place. The parking scheme is still not functioning and businesses say the confusion is losing them customers.

Sonny who runs Paint says: "Noone has said when the parking is going to come in to force; no one has changed the signs; and we're stuck. Nothing is happening."

Meanwhile, the pavement extension, which appears to have gone ahead without consultation of residents or businesses, is continuing apace. The pavement is much wider, with space for at least one and a 'short stay parking and loading area.' Information sent to local shops says: "These improvements are intended to upgrade the area and make it a more pleasant place to live and visit."

However, one resident commented: "Rebuilding a pavement often strikes me as a waste of money because you rarely notice the difference afterwards. I hope this is not just the Council using up its budget towards the end of the year.”

Another said: "This pavement extension seems bonkers. It will make that stretch of Churchfield Road very narrow and especially dangerous for cyclists as motorists rush to get across the railway before the barriers come down. I can't see how making the road narrower is a good idea. It's only just wide enough for buses and lorries as it is. This will surely lead to jams in the area."

Mike Morris, Chair of the Churchfield Community Association (CCA) said: "The CCA strongly supports local businesses in their campaign to make Churchfield Road a viable shopping street.  We urgently need  Ealing Council to explain how the current works will achieve this."

He added: "We do not understand why the new pay and display parking system is taking so long to put right. What is the timetable planned for correctly installing the new system?"

Sara Nathan, also of the CCA, said: "It's difficult to see the advantages these pavement widening works will bring. And we would still like to see the badly needed yellow junction boxes, which will aid traffic turning into Churchfield Road when the level crossing is down. That part of the scheme should be delivered, in our view, by the time these works are completed."

Residents seem baffled about why the works near the station are being made a priority when there are other more pressing needs in the locality. Michelle Smith, who lives in Alfred Road, said: "I hope the new pavements at Londis will improve the area and hopefully keep drivers from hurtling through the pedestrian crossing aiming to beat the railway barriers.

"But there are also other segments of Churchfield Road that continue to be a problem. The junction with Alfred Road is extremely dangerous. Drivers often come flying around the corner, turning into Alfred Road from both sides without looking for pedestrians. I've had several near misses with my six year old in tow as we tried to cross here. This problem has come up several times at the Ward Forums but I've yet to see any decision made on improving it."

A Council spokesperson said:

“A new parking arrangement is being introduced in part of Churchfield Road, which will entitle motorists to 30 minutes free parking. After that time, it becomes pay & display. The parking machine is due to be completed on Friday, 27 November.

“The scheme at Acton Central Station has improved pedestrian access by widening the pavement on the north side of Churchfield Road, and provides improved crossing facilities. Other benefits include new street furniture and reduced clutter. A key part of this scheme was ensuring the road remained wide enough to maintain traffic flow."

November 25, 2009