The Parking Scheme Threat To Local Retailers

by simon quarrell on Tuesday 2nd May

As chairman of the Odiham Town Manager Group, I have just written to Hampshire and Hart Councils to query the so called ‘public consultation’ on the parking scheme. This is because available information says the responses to the consultation were unanimously against the scheme - and yet the Parish Council is still proposing to press on with it.

The three reasons the OTMG objected were based on a survey of local retailers and businesses, and are:

1 The scheme reduces the number of parking spaces in the centre by more than 20 – this is just going to make things worse
2 The plan threatens the viability of the retail centre – and this would change the character of Odiham for the worse. Retailers and businesses who own properties in the area will not be allowed to park on the street – but residents owning properties will be. This is pure discrimination and means that retailers will either have to park outside Odiham, or pay a ‘stealth tax’ of £700+ a year for each member of staff to park in the car park. How sustainable is this for local businesses?
3 The scheme splits the village between the residents in the central area who will have to pay up to three times as much in parish taxes, and those living outside the central area who will pay not one penny more and are hoping for the benefits.

It is clear that the Parish Council is dismissing the core principles of democracy and ignoring its basic duty of representing the views of residents – and this must be challenged.

Comments

Talking to various residents, they did not appreciate that, in the consultation document, the word "resident" meant someone who has no off street parking. It took close study of the small print to discover that the rest of us are not "residents". I think that without this extraordinary bending of the English language there would have been more opposition.
A major part of the attraction of Odiham as a place to live is the diversity of businesses and retail outlets. It would seem that the Parish Council need to actively seek space and funding for a business car park before they kill the soul of the village. This would resolve the present parking problem without the need for the present proposed scheme.

Submitted by Pat Jones on Thu, 2006-05-04 13:42.

The proposed scheme is a threat to community harmony because it is divisive - introducing discrimination between householders and business owners,
discrimination between residents living in the ‘zone’ and those living outside, and
discrimination between residents with off-street parking and those without.
It also gives more power to [email protected] who have proved that they cannot be trusted to resist the temptation of maximising income, rather than managing motorists’ parking needs sympathetically.

Submitted by glw on Sat, 2006-05-06 16:30.

Hello Pat,
What I urge you to do is to motivate the residents you have spoken to to write to the Parish council and re-state their objections. This is not a done deal yet - these decisions can be over-turned if there is sufficient 'evidence' that residents' and businesses views have not been properly taken into account.

Submitted by simon quarrell on Mon, 2006-05-15 09:18.

Not suprisingly glw, I fully agree with you. But I think we can only successfully challenge this scheme if people write to the Parish Council (and Hart and Hampshire) expressing their views - and let the rest of us know that they have. I know that you have in fact done this - what we need is many more people to do the same.

Submitted by simon quarrell on Mon, 2006-05-15 09:20.

Councillor Ken Crookes your District Councillor will be conducting a one to one consultation with residents regarding the Residents Parking Scheme, so, air your views, email him at [email protected] or call him to arrange an appointment on 01256 702170.

Submitted by Peter Fountain on Mon, 2006-05-15 21:02.

Do you know why Councillor Ken Crookes (who was a main sponsor of this scheme) is doing this (after a so-called public consultation)? Is he actually going to listen to residents for once?

Submitted by simon quarrell on Fri, 2006-05-19 10:26.

Let me clarify my position.
Last year when I was first elected to Hart District Council, a number of residents asked me to try and do something about parking in the High Street. Together with the Parish Council, I reviewed the consultation feedback on a previously proposed scheme and asked Hants CC to prepare an updated scheme for consultation. To make sure that the scheme was well publicised, we prepared a document which describes the scheme and delivered it to all houses and businesses in the High Street, King Street and The Bury.
As a result, many people wrote to Hants CC with their feedback, which was mixed. Some critical, some supportive, some with new ideas.
I am now calling on every house, business and retailer in the High Street, King Street and The Bury to meet people and listen to their views first hand.

Submitted by Ken Crookes on Mon, 2006-05-22 12:02.

The PC made a big mistake initially, by only leafleting / publicising the proposed scheme within the area in which it was going to be imposed. In their high-handed way, they assumed that all those living outside that area would automatically be in favour of such a scheme - wrong. They have compounded this error ever since, and apparently are continuing to do so, since the views of everyone outside the central area are classified as coming from "non residents" and therefore do not matter.

This useless scheme will only benefit Hart DC by providing them with additional revenue. Once in place, the scheme will prove nigh impossible to modify or scrap for that very reason. Residents will soon see that the benefits they are hoping for will not materialise, in spite of their contribution to Hart's coffers. There's no guarantee that charges will stay at the initial level, either.

Like a cancer, the scheme will soon spread to the surrounding streets. Residents of those streets will be forced to ask for the scheme to be extended to them by the overflow parking which will inevitably occur. This is another very good reason why ALL residents should be actively consulted before any scheme is started - not just fobbed off with notices on lamposts inviting comments which are then ignored.

This scheme would just hasten the slow strangulation of businesses in the High Street, and the continuing decline of Odiham into another "God's waiting room" like, say, Hastings.

Hants CC should surely not be preparing any scheme - I thought the idea was that the PC came up with the scheme, as was the original intention. And by the way, when was the condition that any permits should be name or household specific dropped in favour of the permits being vehicle regitration number specific as now seems to be the case?

Dare I suggest a referendum?

Incidentally, Ken, if a number of residents ask you NOT to do something about the parking in the High Street, would you go along?

Submitted by cheerful1 on Thu, 2006-05-25 17:49.

Any residents been approached by Councillor Crookes yet for this 1-to-1 consultation?

Submitted by simon quarrell on Wed, 2006-06-14 13:11.

Mr. Crookes has been to see me to hear my comments about the proposed scheme - I made it clear that I felt that the lack of parking during the day is not being addressed (there is not a parking problem during the evenings and weekends) - in fact the opposite seems to be happening - the removal of spaces not the introduction of more spaces - and all this at a cost to the residents and the retailers/office workers. Mr. Crookes has not been in to discuss the scheme with 'Solomon's Seal' - I wonder if any other retailers/offices have had a visit? It affects them also.
A car park dedicated specifically for the retailers/offices would solve the problem taking their cars off the high street and leaving spaces for residents/shoppers/visitors.

I would like to know just how many people are 'supportive of the scheme' as Mr. Crookes has said - I suspect very few are.
It appears that the council are determined that this scheme will go ahead regardless of our views.
DPB

Submitted by Solomons Seal on Thu, 2006-06-15 10:21.

Thanks for the information. I understand that Councillor Crookes has also distributed a questionnaire to some people in the Bury (though interestingly we haven't received one) - and they have confirmed to me that they are all against the scheme.

We must continue to challenge this scheme and not assume it is a 'done deal' - otherwise it will be!

Submitted by simon quarrell on Fri, 2006-06-16 09:07.

Once again I have to say that only asking / distributing questionaires amongst people in The Bury area is not the way to find the views representative of the whole Parish. The rest of us live here, too, Ken ! Are we not entitled to the benefit of your representation in this matter which affects all of us, no matter what the Parish Council think? We may well remember this come next election time - and there's many more of us outside the Bury than in !!

Here's another comment from Ken, referred to in the Parish Council minutes of 22nd May, where he said "he had noticed that a large off-road business car park was barely half full during the day – either the office had too much capacity for cars or they were parked in the road."
Since this is not a Council Car Park, surely what people do with their own land, whether owned or rented, is up to them? Very often, it is a condition of planning permission, whether domestic or commercial, that a certain number of parking places are provided specifically for that business as a condition of that planning approval. How full the spaces are after that depends on the nature of the business and whether it thrives or not.

The P C seems to think that just because only 21 of the 54 comments received were totally against the parking scheme, the rest can be statistically ignored. How about thinking of it another way? How many questionnaires were originally distributed - 100 ? and all within the immediate area of the proposed scheme. (Apparently the rest of us were deemed too unimportant to have our views taken into account, or even asked)

Anyway, of that 100, more than half were not specifically in favour of the scheme as it stands, and yet the PC is in favour of adopting it "as is."

If another questionnaire has now been distributed to a select few, why are the contents not generally known? Why the secrecy? Has Ken been taking lessons / instructions from the notably secretive Traffic and Transport Committee of the PC? ( who incidentally seem to have no minuted knowledge of this action, and although seemingly now hijacked, the scheme was theirs in the first place )

It also looks like the views of the businesses in the High Street are not being properly taken into account, and yet when the Scheme was originally mooted, it was sold to us on the basis of supposedly benefiting businesses and residents alike.

What a way to run a railway.

Submitted by cheerful1 on Fri, 2006-06-16 10:57.

I arranged to meet Ken and we discussed a range of issues on the scheme for an hour or so. It will not be easy for him to recommend rejection of the scheme after publically supporting it but he does appear to be open minded and keen to make the right judgement.
An interesting extract from the latest OPC minutes: -
'Councillor Horton also expressed dismay that District Councillor Crookes who had worked with the Council on the parking scheme was carrying out a separate survey of residents.'

Submitted by glw on Sun, 2006-07-02 21:21.