Leatherhead AHEAD: Parking by Travelodge hotel guests
Leatherhead Advertiser, Thursday July 8, 2004, by Vikki Thomas

Guests staying at the Travelodge in Leatherhead are causing a major safety hazard to the High Street by parking outside overnight. The hotel does not have its own car park and the guests are blocking the road to emergency vehicles. On at least one occasion a police van has been unable drive through, the Advertiser can reveal.

Lucy Hanson, town centre manager, said the situation is a "big issue" and declared "something has got to be done".

Pressure group Leatherhead Ahead said it has been worried about the shortage of parking in the area since it found out the 91 bedroom hotel was coming to the town without its own parking facilities. Wendy Reid, spokeswoman for Leatherhead Ahead, said: "We feel the parking situation is terrible. There is a major need for more spaces. I was enraged to hear the Travelodge was coming to the town without its own car park. You have to look at the parking before you look at anything else."

PC Lee Payne explained that the High Street is shut from 10am until 4pm to traffic, but outside of these times it is open to vehicles. He said: "We can ask drivers to move their cars, and if we believe the vehicles are obstructing the road we can ticket them." But he added that the police do not have the powers to remove the vehicles. He said: "It has been very bad there at times, once we couldn't get our police van down there."

But Travelodge says it is doing its best to try to ensure its customers do not leave their cars overnight in the High Street. A spokesman for the hotel said: "We are discouraging guests from parking there. We are not happy about them doing it. We are speaking to the town centre manager and are trying to see if the police can clamp down in the evenings."

The spokesman said the customers are encouraged to use the car parks in Church Street and Randalls Road. He added: "We are a low-cost hotel chain and there is a car park only 60 feet away. There is more than ample car parking there. We are also hoping to get some spaces in the Swan Centre." Asked if the Travelodge had thoroughly considered the parking situation in Leatherhead before the plans progressed, the spokesman replied: "Absolutely, we carried out extensive research."

Mrs Hanson said she has been in talks with Travelodge and hoped that a meeting would be held next week with numerous parties to ensure the problem can be remedied. "It is a high priority," she stated. "It has affected deliveries and refuse collections, but we are trying to resolve this and find solutions." Mrs Hanson added that she would like Travelodge customers to be allowed to unload their baggage outside the hotel, but then move their car to a car park.

last updated 12 Jul 2004