Wetherspoon punters are trapping us in our homes: Neighbours move away or resort to using fake parking tickets to stop Spoons’ customers blocking driveways after pub carpark was turned into outdoor seating post-Covid
- The Whiffler pub, Norwich, converted 20 parking spaces into seating area
- Change came during Covid restrictions when pubs had to create outdoor space
- Tory councillor Lacey Douglass sold family home as she was so fed up with it
Furious residents claim they are being trapped in their homes by customers at a Wetherspoon pub parking across their driveways and on pavement verges.
The problems have worsened since staff converted up to 20 parking spaces into a seating area with nearly 40 tables at the front of The Whiffler pub in Norwich, Norfolk.
The change was introduced when Covid restrictions meant pubs had to create outdoor spaces for drinkers to follow social distancing guidelines.
The new outdoor area proved so popular with diners and drinkers that Wetherspoon bosses decided to make it a permanent fixture at the pub on Norwich’s inner ring road.
But it has led to complaints that Wetherspoon customers who used to leave their cars and vans in marked spaces are instead clogging up local streets.
The problems have worsened since staff converted up to 20 parking spaces into a seating area during Covid restrictions with nearly 40 tables at the front of The Whiffler pub in Norwich, Norfolk
Hairdresser Georgia Watson, 26, who runs the Snips hair and nail studio opposite the pub once returned to the hair and nail studio and ‘couldn’t get in’ as someone had parked near her door
Publishing company director Stephen Moore, 38, said: ‘It is absolute chaos around here thanks to the Wetherspoon’
There are still car parking areas with around 30 spaces to the side and rear of the pub, but they quickly get filled up because it is so popular.
Local residents claim that many customers still prefer to park on the road even when there are spaces at the pub, so they can leave their cars nearer the door.
Publishing company director Stephen Moore, 38, said: ‘It is absolute chaos around here thanks to the Wetherspoon.
‘People have blocked me in loads of times so I can’t get my car out. Even if they park on the other side of the road, it might mean there is not enough space for me to reverse out and turn.
‘It is incredibly annoying. If I do go out, I can come not be able to get back in my own driveway and there are cars parked all the way up the road.
‘I understood why they created all the outdoor seating at the front of the pub during Covid when people had to meet outside.
‘We all assumed that it was going to go back to how it was before Covid once the restrictions were lifted, but that hasn’t happened.
‘There was once space for around 20 cars at the front of the pub and now there is room for just a couple because of the tables. It is a pain in the backside. They should put it back to how it was.’
‘It was so intolerable’: Tory councillor Lacey Douglass sold her family home opposite the boozer as she was so fed up with being blocked in by bad parking
Archana Rani, 32, who works in the Subway said: ‘We just want our customers to be able to use the spaces we provide’
The pub has put up three signs on a barrier on its boundary calling for its customers ‘to be considerate towards pedestrians, neighbours and local businesses when parking’
Another resident, who asked not to be named, has started downloading and printing fake parking tickets from the internet and putting them on windscreens of badly parked cars
There are complaints that Wetherspoon customers who used to leave their cars and vans in marked spaces are instead clogging up local streets
Local councillor Lacey Douglass sold her family home where she grew up in City View Road opposite the pub because she was so fed up with being blocked in by bad parking.
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Mrs Douglass, a Conservative on Broadland Council, said: ‘It was so intolerable that I had to leave a couple of years ago.
‘After the first lockdown eased, we could not cope with it any more. It was a shame as I had lived in the house since I was six. The pub was totally to blame.
‘But I don’t have a personal vendetta. It is a community problem that needs to be solved. I have got residents sending me pictures of bad parking nearly every day.’
Mrs Douglass said that bad parking at The Whiffler was ‘the number one gripe on doorsteps’ when she and fellow councillor Simon Jones were campaigning for election.
She and Mr Jones have now organised a residents’ meeting at a community centre next month to try and think up plans to tackle the issue.
Wetherspoon bosses have also called residents to a meeting at the pub on Tuesday to try and placate them.
But Mr Jones said: ‘It is creating a public safety issue because drivers can’t turn into neighbouring roads.
The pub converted parking spaces into a seating area when Covid restrictions meant pubs had to create outdoor spaces for drinkers to follow social distancing guidelines
Local residents claim that many customers still prefer to park on the road even when there are spaces at the pub, so they can leave their cars nearer the door
‘Residents are also unable to walk on the pavement. This is especially problematic because there are a number of elderly people who live in the area.
‘We have spoken to the pub, but it’s difficult because they say it is not just customers who are parking there.
‘They also argue that a lot of people walk, rather than drive. We will continue to talk with them and try to find a solution.’
In recent weeks, the pub has put up three signs on a barrier on its boundary calling for its customers ‘to be considerate towards pedestrians, neighbours and local businesses when parking in or around this area’.
The notices ask customers to use the car parks provided and to avoid blocking pavements and access to properties or to park in a manner which would endanger visibility.
A disabled woman living in City View Road, who only gave her name as Ruth, said: ‘It is just a nightmare living here.
‘I moved here in 1998 and the pub was not a Wetherspoon. It was a quiet place and there was no issue with parking.
‘The problems started when Wetherspoon took it over and it became busy. Then when they got rid of half the car parking spaces during Covid it became even worse.
There are still car parking areas with around 30 spaces to the side and rear of the pub, but they quickly get filled up because it is so popular
Another resident said ‘we have been blocked in half a dozen times. I used to ring the pub and describe the car so they could go round and find whose car it was, and get them to move’
‘I often get blocked in. People never leave a note or a number to ring, and you have to wait for them. I used to ring the pub to complain, but it never did any good.
‘The congestion has become even worse recently because roadworks up the road have created even more traffic down here with people taking short cuts.
‘We also have a problem with sewers overflowing in the middle of the road during heavy rain. If there are people parked on the opposite, it means drivers come up the pavement on our side to avoid the water.’
Another resident who asked not to be named said she had resorted to downloading and printing fake parking tickets from the internet and putting them on windscreens of badly parked cars.
She said: ‘They are not real parking tickets, but I fill them out with the registration number of the vehicle. It is worth it if it makes people think for a minute that they are getting a fine, and then they might think twice about parking the same way again.
‘But you get the same vehicles coming back again and again. There are two scaffolding lorries parked on the road nearly every Friday.
‘The other problem is that all the people eating outside the pub have led to seagulls scavenging food. They are stealing from people’s plates and now they are coming into our gardens. The seagulls have only been around since they put out the tables.
‘I don’t want to make too much of a fuss because the people who run the pub are lovely.’
The new outdoor area proved so popular with diners and drinkers that Wetherspoon bosses decided to make it a permanent fixture at the pub on Norwich’s inner ring road
Charity administrator Phil, 65, who also lives in the road, said: ‘We get cars on both sides of the road at popular times, especially on Fridays and at weekends, as well as early in the evening when people are eating meals.
‘The annoying thing is that people still park on the street when there are spaces available in the car park. It is as if they just say, “To hell with it”, so they can avoid walking a few extra steps.
‘We have been blocked in half a dozen times. I used to ring the pub and describe the car so they could go round and find whose car it was, and get them to move.
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‘Once, we had to run my stepdaughter to the station to get a train and we were blocked in. My wife went to the pub and everyone denied that it was their car.
‘When she came back here, a couple who had told earlier that it was not their car came out and got in it to drive off. It meant my stepdaughter missed her train.
‘If they reinstated the car park at the front of the pub, it would be a step in the right direction. Maybe the council could put double yellow lines on the road outside driveways as well.’
Hairdresser Georgia Watson, 26, who runs the Snips hair and nail studio opposite the pub with her nail technician sister Jodie, 22, said: ‘People actually park on our driveway sometimes, especially early in the evening if they think we have finished, but sometimes we are working late.
‘Once I had to leave work for a time, and when I came back there was someone parked so close to my door that I couldn’t get in.
‘I put a note on the windscreen, but the same time the next day he came back and parked here again, with my note still on there, as is he was trying to pretend that he had not seen it. People are really inconsiderate.’
Another neighbour Deb, 44, who works as a plastic welder and lives in nearby Hercules Road, said: ‘Just trying to drive down the road is really difficult because there can be people parking both sides.
‘It makes the roads very dangerous. There have been accidents and we have had two cats run over in the last year.’
Another resident who asked not to be named said: ‘We park our cars on the road because we don’t want to get blocked in. It is a crazy situation.
A spokesperson for Wetherspoon said they are ‘aware of local concerns regarding parking near the pub and has arranged a neighbourhood meeting to discuss the issue
‘All the grass verges have been churned up because of people parking there. The police had to be called last week because there was a pick up truck with a trailer parked right on the junction.
‘It has become more of a problem as the pub has got more popular. People love going there because it is Wetherspoon.’
The manager of the Subway opposite the pub said he had recently put up professional-looking signs threatening people who were not his customers with a £100 fine if they parked in his spaces outside his takeaway.
He said: ‘It was getting so bad that we had to do something. People were leaving cars in my spaces for two or three hours while they went to the pub or sometimes even overnight.
‘There were times when all my spaces were full and my customers could not stop because they had nowhere to park. The signs have improved things a bit, but it is still a problem.
‘I have not tried to fine anyone yet, but it is getting to the stage where I may get an enforcement company to do it.’
Archana Rani, 32, who works in the Subway said: ‘We just want our customers to be able to use the spaces we provide. They are not there for the customers of the pub.’
A spokesperson for Wetherspoon said: ‘We are aware of local concerns regarding parking near the pub.
‘A neighbourhood meeting has been arranged for, August 22, between representatives from the company, local ward councillors, the licensing officer and local residents to discuss the issue, including to what extent it is caused by customers using the pub and whether the addition of double yellow lines on the roads in question could help.’
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