A BID to protect New Forest verges by installing dragons’ teeth to deter parking vehicles has caused such congestion that villagers have cancelled their fireworks display.
Some residents of East Boldre claim parking has been reduced by 50% where the wooden stakes have been extended by Forestry England near the village shop, post office and the bus shelter.
The organisation behind the village bonfire and fireworks night, the East Boldre School Fields Trust, said the work by Forestry England has forced it to cancel the event this year.
Trust chair Hollie Scott said the event, which has raised £6,000 for the charity in the past two years, had become “a victim of its own success”.
Her statement explained: “Parking has increasingly become a problem for our event and with the introduction of dragons’ teeth along the road we feel visitors’ safety has to be our priority.
“We have been exploring alternatives for parking with no success, making the only option this year to cancel.”
Villager Howard Moore, who lives in East Boldre, described the situation near Matthews Lane as “most unsatisfactory” after the action against encroaching cars.
“The results of this means more on road parking and congestion and even damage to residents and visitors’ vehicles which have been forced to park on the road,” he said.
“There is periodic blocking of Matthews Lane by vehicles visiting the shop and delivery lorries, and an increased danger to vehicles trying to exit the lane caused by vehicles parked close to the junction with Main Road.”
Mr Moore added that local children were unable to get safely on and off the school bus at the designated stop, due to the additional traffic, and locals were concerned about the possible obstruction to emergency services.
He added: “In addition, environmentally unsympathetic banks of bare earth have been constructed all along the length of the road.
“The laying of the new dragons’ teeth in East Boldre was a mistake and achieves very little, other than major disruptions to village life.”
Clerk to East Boldre Parish Council, Nicola Curzon, told the A&T that inconsiderate parking around the entrance of Matthews Lane had been discussed at its two most recent meetings.
She said it had been agreed with East Boldre School Fields Trust that the school bus could pick up and drop off children from the village hall car park, and customers were being encouraged to use the designated parking bays opposite the shop.
Mrs Curzon added the parish council will now contact Hampshire Highways requesting the installation of a convex mirror to help drivers pulling out of Matthews Lane – which will need approval by Hampshire County Council, Forestry England and verderers.
New dragons’ teeth in Pilley have sparked similar frustration, with resident Robert Young telling the A&T that the Forestry England had “gone over the top” with protecting grass verges.
He said: “Some beautiful verges in Pilley Street conservation area which have never had vehicle damage during my 30 years as a resident have now been blighted with dragons’ teeth. Residents would like to see most of them removed now, where they are superfluous.
“I can accept that there are a few locations where verges can be improved, but this should be done in a way that is sensitive to the local requirements for parking and dog walking.”
He added: “Would it not have been a good and constructive use of dragons’ teeth generally to designate neat, small gravel lay-by parking with grass verges between?”
A Forestry England spokesperson told the A&T that the restoration of verges across the New Forest was a joint project between Forestry England, the national park authority and the verderers. It had received “really positive feedback” in East Boldre, she said.
She said: “The New Forest is a nationally important and protected area for conservation and that includes its miles of verges. Although these look just like easy places to pull onto and temporarily park, they are in fact incredibly important habitats supporting many plants and animals.
“Unauthorised parking on these verges not only damages them but, over time, also significantly erodes and reduces the size of the Forest as a whole.”
At East Boldre, Forestry England had been working with residents, business owners, the parish council and the village hall committee, she said, including resurfacing parking opposite the garage and village shop.
The works also meant the school bus could access the village hall car park, avoiding the road and creating a safer place for children to board, she added.
She said: “As with anywhere, it is everyone’s own responsibility to ensure they park safely and responsibly.”