Wisbech businesses saw huge losses this weekend when the market place ground to a halt after an ambulance struck scaffolding while trying to avoid an illegally parked car.
The market place was closed for around four hours over Saturday lunchtime following the incident while a structural engineer assessed the damage. The closure forced several businesses and market stalls to close early.
Loafers Coffee Shop was one of many businesses forced to close on their busiest day of the week. Owner Inguna Smite said: “It was really very bad for us, our busiest day and we were forced to close.
“Upstairs, downstairs and outside were full of customers but everyone had to leave.We really lost money that day.”
She added: “So many businesses were affected , and so many market stall holders who rely on Saturday business for their wages.”
The Wool Shop remained open throughout, but with Union Street barricaded off owner Linda Univer found they lost a lot of business. She said: “We have so many lorries coming along here for deliveries passing within inches of the glass windows, there’s always the worry something will happen. It’s just too close for comfort.
“When they have to pass cars that have parked in the wrong place or can’t access the loading bay because people have parked there it causes gridlock.”
A motorist was fined for parking illegally in the area where the ambulance struck the scaffolding surrounding the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, which police claim contributed to Saturday’s incident. The car involved was removed.
The incident came amid renewed focus on parking issues in the town centre, which have seen around 150 fixed penalty notices issued to drivers in the last few weeks. And many of those fined made it difficult for emergency service vehicles to be able to get through.
The campaign was launched after concerns were raised by fire crews, residents and business leaders about the problem.
The town centre has a controlled parking zone (CPZ), which permits access to the town centre via Hill Street and Church Terrace with parking in designated bays only.