I presented our petition to Waverley Local Committee today (24 February 2012). Before the start of public questions, Nikki Barton & I introduced ourselves to Mr North, who commented that the petition was the biggest they’d ever had! Steve Renshaw arrived and proceeded to get out a copy of the Haslemere Herald, which he opened to the letters page and was about to show David North, when he was interrupted by Pat Frost (the Chairperson) who said, “I don’t want to hear any discussions about Haslemere parking, put it away”. We felt quite heartened by this. After public questions there was about 15 minutes to kill before the meeting proper started, so Nikki and I went and spoke to some of the councilors,.
I made my three minute presentation and we left.
Whether it cut much ice with anyone is anybody’s guess.
I am presenting a petition against the parking enforcement proposals in Haslemere. It contains 4636 signatures, the equivalent of 38% of the population of Haslemere and its catchment. It is also 39% more than the total number of people who voted in the Surrey County Council elections. Of these signatures, many are from the roads affected by the proposals, including those where residents have been said to be in favour of the proposals. In some cases these amount to a high proportion of the total number of people living in these roads. The reason some of these people have signed is not because they do not need and want restrictions but because the restrictions that have been proposed are based around the introduction of pay and display. There has been no opportunity for alternative, cheaper and less obtrusive options to be considered. In other words they believe that the consultation process has been flawed and will not provide solutions but will cause further problems.
The introduction of pay and display was conceived as a money raising exercise by Surrey County Council to cover the £0.5M deficit made by enforcement – nothing more and nothing less. No effort appears to have been made to reduce this deficit by improved efficiency, in fact quite the reverse. We now have wardens coming down from Guildford in rented vans to patrol our streets. When I submitted a written question to the last Local Committee meeting about the current and predicted future costs of enforcement, no effort was made to come up with even ball park figures. How can you judge whether a scheme that will be so costly to implement is going to be cost effective if you don’t have all the figures to hand. If you went to the bank with a business plan like that you’d be shown the door.
The refinements that have been made since then have been made to make the proposals ‘more palatable to residents’, to quote the minutes of the Environment and Transport Select Committee. We believe that the introduction of on street charging in the town will have a disastrous effect on the businesses in the town, especially the many small independents, who are working so hard to survive. There is evidence from other parts of the country that it impacts retailers. In Chippenham, for example, footfall has declined by 20% since parking charges were introduced. A reduction of this magnitude will kill off many of the small independents that make Haslemere the attractive town it is to live and work in. We have a signed list of all the businesses in Haslemere, including the fast food outlets, stating their objection to the proposals.
It has been said that the introduction of parking charges will encourage churn and relieve congestion. Surrey County Council has no evidence to suggest that there is a problem in Haslemere with either, whereas our own investigations reveal that churn is sufficient and compliance is generally good. The research that Surrey cite was in fact carried out in the USA in cities with populations of more than 50,000, hardly relevant to a small market town in rural Surrey.
Haslemere Town Council has received copies of over 780 letters of objection sent to Surrey County Council. Please do not ignore the strength of feeling against the proposals expressed in these and in our petition.
From: JL Nobbs [mailto:removed]
Sent: 24 February 2012 3:41 PM
Subject: petition presentation
Editor’s note. This e-mail went to a spam folder hence the delay publishing it.