Comment in a cycling blog mentions mob behaviour of Haslemere people

Googling search terms “parking” and “sustainable” for the previous blog post, this comment about the “mob behaviour” of the people of Haslemere was found in a cycling blog post, How car dependence has turned parking charges into a “tax”. (“mob behaviour” NOT my words!)

Paul M says:

Mark makes a good point about the cost of acquiring the car – if you accept as I do that cars are here to stay, but that we should rule them rather than vice versa, the objective should be to facilitate people to own cars, especially less well-off people, but discourage them from using them unless necessary. You can do that in various ways such as pricing or restricting parking, or by rebalancing taxation away from purchase/ownership (and key safety factors like insurance and maintenance) towards use. Adding to fuel duty is probably not the way forward long-term, rather road-pricing -surely these days with almost universal GPS ownership it can’t be beyond the wit of the DoT to develop a smart road-pricing system for a manageable cost? Then you could price a country road in the early morning cheaply, and a city street at rush hour dearly.

Moving on, this does sound rather like an issue raging in my home town, Haslemere, at the moment. Surrey CC wants to introduce on-street car parking charges, partly to manage availability better so that residents are not prevented from parking within a reasonable distance from the front doors by selfish shoppers or rail commuters, and partly to raise revenues to fund the county’s parking enforcement operation, which currently runs at a deficit. The reaction would have done the Daily Mail and the disgusted residents of Tunbridge Wells proud. It all culminated in a bad-tempered encounter at a meeting, held in public, of the county’s neighbourhood committee, of which objectors complained about high-handed and “undemocratic” behaviour by the committee chairman, while apparently oblivious to the objectors’ own mob behaviour in heckling and shouting down the elected councillors holding what was, after all, a local authority procedural meeting.

Meanwhile, the objectors’ website, Haslemereparking.com, does have a few dissenting voices, noting for example that some of the drivers who park for free in streets near the station actually live within a few hundred metres of where they park! I have observed the same – to my certain knowledge two former neighbours in the housing estate where I used to live drive daily to the station, 7/8 of a mile away and park, one on-road and the other in a council car park, a quarter mile from the station – they barely save themselves a half-mile or ten minutes walk.

As it happens, there has been a substantial increase in cycling to the station over the last few years, with the cycle parking being doubled and still being saturated, but this was from a low base – perhaps 60 bikes now against 30 before, excluding folders. The town centre and shops however are a cycling desert – apart from Waitrose, which has a couple of plant-tub/cycle docks outside, and a couple of cycle trailers available for loan, there is just about nothing. At least the local Surrey CC councillor leapt at the idea of improving cycle parking, if only to help defuse the car parking row.

 

Editor’s reply…(not yet published on the cycling blog)

It is interesting to read Paul M’s comment. I live in Haslemere and I cycle in and around the town centre too. I commute to London (2 or 3 days a week) and I walk to and from the station (0.8 mile distance from my house). Not one of my commuting neighbours drives to the station. Most of them walk or cycle.

I also attended the meeting he talks about and it was described very differently by residents who attended. If you’d like to read about the meeting, here are three articles:

A TRULY APPALLING MEETING

A DAY AT THE PANTO

MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY

Paul M – I note you were not on the attendee list – so I have no idea who shared the term “mob behaviour” with you. We will consider sharing your blog post with the 200 people who did attend: vicars, teachers, headteachers, lawyers, nurses, doctors, managing directors, chief executives, housewives, cake makers, pensioners etc. I’m not sure they’ll take kindly to being described in that way by you. We collected their e-mails at the meeting.

An interesting article today on the haslemereparking.com site (forgive me for being pedantic, it’s a democratic forum, not the objectors’ website) talks about sustainable transport. It picks up on an article about parking charges in Peckham. It then talks about how parking charges in Haslemere are being imposed as a single issue with no sustainable agenda. In fact the first I heard that our Surrey County Councillor is considering cycle solutions is in your comment. I welcome that too.

Finally, perhaps Steve Renshaw’s comments (he is our County Councillor) made you believe it was bad behaviour? He did after all decry the behaviour of the people of Haslemere.

1 comment for “Comment in a cycling blog mentions mob behaviour of Haslemere people

  1. Paul M
    19/04/2012 at 10:08

    Go ahead – I am not afraid of my views.

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