Haslemere out in force for pay and display protest via @getsurrey

We saw this story following Get Surrey on Twitter.

This is the article in full below. It was written by Amy Taylor today.

A MASS protest has been staged in Haslemere against proposals to install pay-and-display parking meters in the town centre.

More than 500 people gathered outside the town hall last Saturday (February 4) to make their feelings known against Surrey County Council’s proposals, and to present a petition signed by 2,000 concerned residents and business owners to the Mayor of Haslemere, Councillor Jim Edwards.

The petition was handed over by Julianne Evans from the Haslemere Chamber of Trade, after which the procession – led by the town crier in uniform – marched through the town, blocking traffic and picking up extra people as it went.

Protester Nikki Barton said that the signatures had been collected in less than a week, since news of the proposals had become known.

The protest was the final push for those opposing the measure during a period of public consultation – which was ending on Friday – and followed a series of smaller demonstrations from people worried that the proposals would be the final nail in the coffin for struggling businesses.

Under the plans, high street parking will go from being free for an hour to a pay-and-display system, and up to 17 residential roads will be given parking bays, though permits for residents will be available.

Nikki Barton said there had been “huge public outrage” at what people in the town saw as increased pressure on Haslemere to accept the proposals.

“At the moment in the High Street we can park for an hour and that seems to work. So many of the shops have said they won’t survive a pay-and-display system because their staff are on minimum wage.

“The maximum charge will only be £5 a day but that’s a lot for people on minimum wage.”

She added: “Feeling in the town is running extremely high about the proposals, both concern about the lack of any consultation process and the proposals themselves, which will undermine the viability of a small market town like Haslemere in a recession without actually addressing the issue of commuter parking.”

Parking problems from commuters, she said, was “quite a separate issue” and the whole town was being made to pay instead.

“I’m just a mum and a resident,” she said. “I have got no axe to grind against anybody, but I just think it’s shocking.

“Many people at the protest commented they had never been to a demonstration before, but they feel so strongly about the issue.”

The pay-and-display proposals were rejected by Haslemere Town Council at a meeting at the end of January, and the chamber of trade and commerce has been urging people to take part in the consultation.