Haslemere parking row rumbles on via @GetSurrey

Amy Taylor of The Surrey Advertiser is the author of an article published today entitled: Haslemere parking row rumbles on.

On the front page of the Surrey Advertiser the article appears with the heading: Victory in protest over unpopular parking proposal.

It was standing room only at a meeting over controversial parking proposals in Haslemere, as protest groups made their concerns known.

The meeting at Chichester Hall in Witley last Friday (March 16) attracted nearly 200 people to hear the decision, many of whom were vocal in their opposition.

The announcement that pay-and-display proposals had been dropped was met with cheers, but those present said they were disappointed with the lack of debate on the remaining proposals dealing with residents’ parking and on-street charges.

Nikki Barton, who has led the campaign, said it had been an “extraordinary meeting”.

“It’s the structure of the local committee that needs to be looked at,” she explained.

“We had been led to understand that there would be a debate, and that decisions had not been made in advance.

“The worst of it is that we have been made out to be a group of radical activists and that really couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We are senior lawyers, bankers, teachers and members of the cloth, just members of the community. We are an intelligent and educated group, not the rabble we are being portrayed as.”

More than 180 people were at the meeting to oppose Surrey County Council’s suggestions, and several thousand signatures have been collected on petitions handed to councillors.

At the meeting, chaired by Cllr Pat Frost, issues surrounding commuter parking were raised as a concern, and those present were told that a second deck on the station car park may be the answer.

Accusations that the officers’ reports had been “badly drafted and riddled with errors” were denied by members, with Cllr Frost saying: “I know how angry you all feel.

“I do understand that and have sympathy. I do assure you that we have listened.”

She added: “Sometimes we have to make decisions that are not popular with people all of the time.

“I met with representatives of a group from Haslemere and we were able to talk in a calm atmosphere.”

Julianne Evans, president of the Haslemere Chamber of Trade, said it felt as though decisions about residential on-street parking were being made “in a completely ad hoc way”.

She added: “It was clear that this decision had been taken before the meeting because Cllr Frost then had to seek agreement from her committee. It made a mockery of the whole process.”

Nikki Barton said that though the group welcomed the end to pay-and-display proposals, they were now getting their thoughts together on how to proceed.

“We feel an obligation to challenge the conduct of our elected representatives. We, and our fellow interest groups, also want to ensure that the next phase of consultation is carried out exactly as the town community would expect and not as a repeat of what has gone on so far.”

 

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