BUSINESS owners on a busy Dudley town centre street have joined together to blast what they consider 'unfair' parking rules that they claim is hurting their trade.

Shop owners on Wolverhampton Street have criticised the implementation of a loading bay on the street, which allows loading and unloading for twenty minutes.

They want to the see the loading bay replaced with 20 minute parking instead.

They claim that delivery drivers to the shops have received parking fines for leaving their cars for as little as a few minutes while they make delivery to the businesses, many of which do not have rear access parking so rely on the street loading bays.

They say that delivery drivers have been told to keep their boot open at all times when making deliveries.

An opticians on the street has seen patients of its diabetic clinic, many of who are elderly and disabled, receive fines.

Heather Wilkinson, an opticians at Bonham and Butler Opticians, explained that many patients are driven to their appointments and the driver has to leave their car to assist the patient across the road to make their appointment, in which time the driver has been slapped with a fine.

She said: "We have a lot of amputee patients and a lot of people in wheelchairs and on crutches. 9 out 10 don't drive, so they get dropped off outside the shop. When the driver gets back they have been ticketed.

"People are furious."

She gave the example of a woman who brought her parents for an appointment, and popped back to move her car only to find she had received a ticket.

Heather says that in the past two to three weeks she knows of six patients who have been ticketed.

She added: "I want to see 20 minute parking for everyone, it will help with dropping off so people can manage to get here. Dudley is quiet as it is, customers are going to be scared away."

Dierdre Holness, who also works at the opticians, blasted the traffic restrictions as 'disgusting' and added: "We are trying to get people to come into Dudley town centre, but they aren’t going to come in. They are giving out parking tickets left right and centre. "Since customers have been getting tickets they aren’t coming back to the town."

David Dils from David's Caves, a social enterprise shop on the street, said the effect of the fines on his customers was so great that he fears he will be raising less funds for charity.

He said: "I'm in this for the good of the community. I gave £19,000 to local good causes in the area last year and I don’t take a wage. This year with the parking restriction and the damage caused it’s going to be a lot less."

He added that there are six different parking restrictions along Wolverhampton Street.

He said: "We are expecting people who are busy to have encyclopedic knowledge of Dudley’s parking restrictions."

The concerned business owners say they feel the parking rules are 'confusing' and are putting shoppers off parking on the street and potentially spending time and money in their shops.

Their concerns are shared by Mohammed Sagir, who owns Direct Link Communication on the street and is an ambassador for business in Dudley town centre.

He said that even though his shop has a rear entrance, the loading bays affect all of the businesses on the street and he is worried the current rules will kill the town's businesses.

The business owners have expressed their concerns to Dudley Council, but they say they feel their worries have been dismissed, however the council insist that they are looking to find a 'mutually acceptable solution' to the issue.

Alan Lunt, Strategic Director for Place at Dudley Council, said: “Following feedback from businesses on Wolverhampton Street last year the council consulted on and subsequently installed a length of loading bay for businesses to use when loading or unloading only.

“Our civil enforcement officers work to ensure bays are only used during loading for a maximum of 20 minutes and they do take enforcement action if vehicles remain in the bay after loading has finished or if bays are used for any other purpose.

“We met with local Dudley businesses to discuss their concerns and have agreed to explore ways of achieving a mutually acceptable solution and in the process attempt to meet their transport and delivery needs.”