The narrow roads and limited parking can make it difficult to manoeuvre through the town centre, most notably at peak times in the morning and afternoon when school buses transport children in and out of Oundle from the surrounding villages. However, whilst the congestion caused by these buses is inconvenient, the buses do provide an essential service for children and parents alike.
In addition to the school pick-up and drop-off times in the mornings and afternoons, drivers also have to negotiate lorry deliveries to town centre shops and businesses. A parked lorry in the centre of town not only exacerbates the traffic flow problem, but presents a dangerous hazard for drivers and cyclists.
Oundle has many small independent businesses for whom out-of-hours deliveries would not be possible, however larger businesses should be able to schedule deliveries to minimise disruption.
The Rose and Crown has a large lorry delivery well outside the hours when school buses come through town, with deliveries made at 9.30am most mornings, and at 1.00pm one day a week.
Boots and Tesco also operate from the town centre. Tesco receives its deliveries at 9.00am from the back of the building and does not create a traffic problem. Boots, however, receives its deliveries daily at 8.15am. Its delivery vehicle blocks one of the lanes right next to the pedestrian crosswalk in the market place, and the town centre quickly becomes congested with the rush hour traffic.
The Oundle Chronicle attempted to contact Boots to enquire about their delivery policy and whether they would be willing to change their delivery times, however the Head Office did not respond.
The issue of deliveries is not only causing irritation to drivers in the town centre, but also to residents of East Road who said that they are being disturbed by the early morning deliveries made to Waitrose. The deliveries used to be made at 6.30am, but store staff now say that deliveries are scheduled for 6.00am, with the store open at 5.45am to receive deliveries.
One resident on East Road complained to the store that large delivery vehicles are arriving as early as 5.30am on weekends.
The resident said: ‘It’s so noisy. It’s totally unacceptable, especially on a weekend. This is a residential neighbourhood.’
The manager of the Oundle Waitrose branch said that the store is committed to delivering within their allotted hours and they have done all they can to look into the complaint. He said: ‘Any reported breaches will be looked into and investigated fully.’
During the initial planning consultation, Waitrose said that only one delivery would take place before the store opened, but no specific time was detailed.
According to a 2011 study by the Department for Transport, a local authority has a key role to play in any proposed ‘out-of-hours’ deliveries, as it has a duty of care to protect the interests of local residents from disturbance and noise.
However, this duty of care must also be balanced against its obligations to improving air quality, reducing congestion, improving road safety and understanding the requirements of local businesses.