This is another letter that appeared in this week’s Herald.
I wish I could be amused by the misinformation and backroom negotiations being used in recent weeks by the Conservative party to try to push through their beloved MSCP. Instead, I am appalled at the way in which character assassination is being used instead of accurate information to try to persuade us all it is a good idea. Whether you are for, against or undecided the fact is that there has NOT been “a significant amount of consultation and research” as stated by Jeremy Hunt MP in last week’s lead article. I presume by this he means he has received the benefit of the opinions of his local party members, one of whom has undertaken a few surveys of cars parked in the station area. The 200 emails sent in support of the MSCP after Mr Hunt’s recent ‘call to arms’ are taken as evidence of ‘overwhelming’ support for the MSCP but I can tell him that the majority of my 200 customers a day are skeptical at best. Furthermore, I wonder whether the people who sent those emails of support realized the full implications of an MSCP when they did so, for example and in no particular order: exactly how much the project is likely to cost (c.£5m); how large it will need to be (three storeys); the potential need for changes to traffic management infrastructure; the charges that will subsequently be imposed both in the MSCP itself and in nearby car parks as well as parking controls on ALL residential roads; the costs of administering any form of permit scheme to enable residents and/or workers to park on the street; the fact that the amount being pledged to the project by Haslemere Town Council might necessitate them increasing their precept…I could go on. Cllr Mulliner seems quite at ease with the idea of rigid parking controls on every road in the town but I for one am not. ‘Chocolate box’ or not, it is a beautiful market town attracting a significant number of casual visitors. Do we really want a forest of signs springing up preventing everyone but the favoured few from parking here?
There ARE other options that could be considered but I suspect, for some people, they require too much time and effort (and, dare I say it, imagination), compared with the ‘easy’ solution of building an MSCP. The very same statistics regarding season ticket holders quoted by Cllr Mulliner in last week’s Letters page could be used to develop alternative means of transport if there were ‘core’ areas people were coming from for whom Haslemere is the nearest mainline station. If people really are coming from as far afield as Chichester or Southampton, let’s find out why. If people are driving in from the Liphook area because there are more trains from Haslemere, is there scope for negotiation with South West Trains? The overarching point in this whole debate is that there are an awful lot of assumptions being made that are being peddled as facts and conclusions being reached without considering all the options and their implications. Until we have REAL facts, it would be irresponsible to go ahead with such a project.