Your Editor donned walking boots and backpack to deliver haslemereparking.com flyers and posters to town centre shops in Haslemere yesterday. It took most of the day as everyone had something to say about parking charges.
The larger independent stores have a policy of not putting posters in windows, and many shopkeepers don’t like flyers in their windows as it detracts from their window displays, however, as soon as I said it was a flyer about parking many independent shops grabbed a poster from my hands.
In conversation yesterday, not one shopkeeper supported the proposals. (I will add though that one Weyhill shopkeeper (2 weeks ago) shared with me that they would agree to the proposals and accept that they’ll just have to pay customers’ and staff parking fees to keep clients on board). I lost count of the number of people who said they were at the Haslemere Hall meeting, had organised a petition in their shops and had attended the town parking protest. Many shop owners said from the Haslemere Hall meeting they wholeheartedly agreed with Woodie & Morris‘ Clive Rollinson’s statement, “It isn’t broke, so there’s no need to fix it!” From the Transcript of Haslemere Town Council Meeting for Residents at Haslemere Hall:
Mr. Mayor, Mr. Councillor, my name is Clive Rollinson. I run a shop, Woodie & Morris, 7 Petworth Road. It seems to me that what Surrey is trying to do here is apply one solution to three different problems. We have a problem with the station, undoubtedly. I don’t know the details but it is clear. It’s the last station on the Portsmouth Line where you can get to Waterloo in an hour. Therefore it is going to be a mecca for people who live here, people who are moving into the new development at the hospital near Midhurst and in Fernhurst. So it’s got to be sorted out. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. Secondly, we have got the problem of the residential roads around the station. Again, I have sympathy with the people who live there. I don’t but I am sure a solution can be found. However, the third part, and rather than restrict themselves to dealing with parts 1 and 2, the Council also sees that it has a part to play in Central Haslemere. Personally, I think you have no part to play. There is no problem, not that I can see. I have seen no constructive body of information. (Cheers and applause). As I say, I have seen no body of information that suggests there is a problem. I walk through the town every single day. I see empty parking places. I don’t see any need for the County Council to interfere in what goes on in central Haslemere. (Cheers and applause). And finally, you talked about — and I support in principle, the idea of putting up an idea, “the straw man” as you refer to it, so that we can all discuss it and so on. However, I see you supporting the straw man, not taking down the reasonable ideas that are coming from the people of Haslemere. It isn’t broke, so there’s no need to fix it!
One shop owner shared that David Hodge, the Leader of Surrey County Council visited her shop the week before last as she and her husband/business partner had written a letter of objection to him. Another said you cannot effect change so, why bother trying? One takeaway on Weyhill said to me that no-one will pay 70p to park to get a bag of chips. The Hokey Cokey displayed their haslemereparking.com poster and the NO! poster from last month’s demonstration on a plastic parking meter in their shop window. The Sports Locker said they liked keeping the NO! poster in their window as they really mean it: NO! Several shopkeepers said they were angry about the change to parking times in car parks, particularly Chestnut Avenue. One said, “these councillors make us walk a tightrope and they’re having a laugh shaking the tightrope at the end with their parking charges.”
There was unanimous opposition to the parking proposals for the town and I hope that Jeremy Hunt’s message following his meeting with Cllr Renshaw is heard. From his blog:
the plans to introduce charges in the retail areas should be seriously reconsidered as they do not have the support of the town.
The majority of shopkeepers I met are united in their love of our local community and acknowledge there’s a good vibe in the town. On-street and off-street parking charges genuinely worry them.