Redhill pub forced to stop lunch service due to 'ridiculous commuter parking'

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

'Ridiculous': Publican can no longer serve lunch due to lack of parking spaces
'Ridiculous': Publican can no longer serve lunch due to lack of parking spaces
A publican has been forced to stop serving lunch Monday to Friday as London commuters take up all the free parking around the area.

Kevin Ibbotson established the Joshua Tree at Earlswood Common, Redhill, in November 2001. Without a car park, he has always relied on free parking around the common for his trade.

Now, however, he has described the parking as “ridiculous”, with commuters coming from “far and wide” to park and get the train into London.

Some even leave their cars for weeks, after getting a taxi to take them the short distance to Gatwick Airport, said Ibbotson.

“I have been here for 16 years and it wasn't a problem when I started,” he said.

“We used to do 50 covers for lunch easily in quite a small establishment; we are not a massive pub.

“Over the years it has got progressively worse.

“The last couple of years it seems to have got even worse. They have put more restrictions in, painted more yellow lines around the area, and it's created this issue.

“People are coming from further out of town and the commuter belt seems to be moving - we get them coming from the south coast or further away, then parking their car here and getting the train straight into London Bridge or Victoria.”

Just not worth it

As a result, Ibbotson now does not open the pub from Monday to Friday until 5pm, as “it's just not worth it”.

At weekends he opens all day, as usual, but has extended the services on Sunday to try to recoup the money.

“I now do Sunday lunch for an hour and a half extra, so I can get two sittings in," he said.

"Luckily I am very successful with Sunday lunches, I am busy so that helps.

“It has balanced out, so I am not losing fortunes that I am going to shut down. But it is inconvenient to not be open during the day.

“It's more difficult to recruit staff because you only have evening shifts; I have no lunch shifts to offer. It creates its own problems.”

Nothing to be done

The publican has made enquiries with the council and his local MP about what could be done, but to no avail.

“The sort of people who have money to spend at lunchtime won't come out if they can't park,” he said.

“And if you look outside, there is not a single parking space - even my staff have to drive up the road, finding somewhere to park and walk down.

“It is ridiculous, and I can't see it getting any better.”

Ibbotson has said he is wary of trying to get restricted parking around the area, as this would affect local residents.

“The only thing I can think of would be something from 9am to 10am for an hour so it stops the commuters from parking here,” he said.

“We also suffer with airport parking. People will park, get the suitcases out the car, get into a taxi, and £10 down the road they are at Gatwick - they do not pay any parking fees or anything like. Come back a week later, and off they go.”

Still thriving

The publican added: “The business is still thriving, I have just had to reconfigure it.

“Luckily I am very food orientated, because I am a chef of some 30 years. I have a very good food trade, so that keeps me going.

“So it's not that I am failing, it's just inconvenient closing at lunchtimes.

“Obviously, some lunchtime trade would be nice as well. But if I can't have that, we will keep going.”

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