ANGRY traders say changes to parking in a busy town centre street are causing them to lose business.

Shop bosses in Market Street, Darwen, were furious after diagonal parking bays were replaced with a new parallel parking system.

And business have launched a petition calling for the old system to be reinstated.

Previously, cars were able to drive straight into the diagonal bays, four of which were designated disabled bays.

But under the new system, drivers have to reverse into the spaces, causing a danger to oncoming traffic, traders said. They also hit out at the introduction of new taxi parking bays across the road, despite the fact there is only one registered Hackney carriage in the town.

Ron Nairey owns The Tea Shop and said he had seen a noticeable decline in his trade.

He said: “Old people will not park like that and they are our core customers. It is dangerous for them to reverse and it slows the traffic down. I have seen a decline in business in the past week.”

Deborah Ainsworth Lord, of Ainsworth Lord Estate Agents, said: “It was sneaky the way they did it late on a Friday so nobody noticed. I think we are down to 30 per cent parking capacity now in the road.”

The changes have also caused problems for disabled people, including Lorna Read, from Pot House, who suffers with severe arthritis.

She said: “The very nature of disabled spaces is the need for more room.

“I physically could not park there this morning but luckily managed to get a space in the underground car park in School Street.”

Sudell councillor Roy Davies said, along with bosses at Boots, he had launched a petition. He said: “We had not heard anything about it then all at once it was changed.

“They say it is safer that way as they can drive straight out, but they have to stop to reverse in.

“Parking on the other side is only for black cabs but I think we only have one licensed black cab in Darwen, so the spaces will never be used.”

No-one from Blackburn with Darwen Council was available to comment at the time of going to press.