Haslemere Herald letter. @SurreyCouncil ignoring interests of Haslemere

Dear Haslemere Herald Letter Page,

Please find below a letter concerning the current SCC parking proposals that I hope that you will consider publishing in this week’s Haslemere Herald.

Best regards

Nikki Barton

Haslemere Parking Action Group

Scotland Lane

Haslemere

 

Dear Editor,

If the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Surrey County Council’s Waverley Local Committee push through the current extensive set of parking proposals for Haslemere, they will not only perpetuate the impression that Surrey County Council has a disregard for the interests of Haslemere (again), but also provide further evidence that politicians cannot be trusted to keep their promises.  In this situation, is it surprising that there are calls for independent representatives to be elected to our councils?

The proposals are a nonsense.  They set out paid-for residents’ and visitors’ permits and double yellow lining throughout the town and were presented to the Local Committee in September without the “full consultation” with the community which Haslemere had been promised – not only in May by the Leader of Surrey County Council but also in June by both the Local Committee’s Vice-Chairman (our elected Member) and by Surrey’s senior parking officer.   Having been forced to drop their proposals for Pay and Display due to the failure to follow due process back in March,  the SCC senior leadership team gave an assurance that things would be done in a better way going forward.  They said that future consultation would be done properly and a holistic approach would be taken, with Phase 1 being merely to introduce residents permit schemes in a small number of roads where the need was pressing and where displacement of cars to neighbouring streets would be minimal.  Phase 2 would be broader, as needed, and introduced in the future when more commuter parking became available at the station to reduce the displacement impact.  Phase 3 has been described as implementing an overall transport ‘blue print’ for the town in a long-term forward-thinking way.

Yet this current ‘Phase 1’  was prepared over the summer following a very brief consultation carried out during the holiday period and referring to historic discussions which were contingent on the Pay and Display proposals.  SCC officers seem to believe this was satisfactory; we consider it to be totally inadequate.  Unsurprisingly the response rate to SCC’s unsophisticated survey was very low (under 32%); approval rates from this low baseline for some roads were also very low; and main stakeholders such as schools, churches, the health centre and hospital, were yet again not consulted (inspite of SCC acknowledging the relevance of such stakeholders).   We find this lack of engagement extraordinary when you consider that for example, if approved, the whole length of Beech Road, (where there is plenty of off-street parking) will effectively become a private road, with residents only parking,  between 11.30am and 2.00pm.  This will remove essential parking for patients and staff of the Haslemere and District Hospital and Health Centre, while providing unlimited parking for residents such as the Leader of Waverley Borough Council and member of the Waverley Local Committee, who happens to be a resident of Beech Road…

Having broken its promise of full consultation, if SCC further reneges on its promise to introduce a small scale Phase 1, the result will be a large number of displaced cars (Haslemere Town Council estimates that more than 65 cars would need to find new places to park); this will just shift the problem to other roads in the town and start affecting everyone.  SCC claims the proposals are intended to address the issue of commuter parking, but until more parking is made available at the station these proposals just make it more difficult for those of us who live and work here.  Clearly SCC have not kept to their word on how they would interact with Haslemere and on the scope of this next set of proposals, parts of which are merely a repackaged form of Pay and Display.

There are just 7 days left to respond to the proposals which can be seen in detail at www.haslemereparking.com .  Letters should be sent to parking@surreycc.gov.uk ….please also send a copy David Hodge, Leader SCC (david.hodge@surreycc.gov.uk) as I am sure he will be interested to understand what has happened to the promises his leadership team gave to the citizens of Haslemere.

 

Nikki Barton

Haslemere Parking Action Group

Haslemere