Open Letter to members of @SurreyCouncil’s Waverley Local Area Committee

OPEN LETTER TO MEMBERS OF SCC’s WAVERLEY LOCAL AREA COMMITTEE

Dear Councillors,

Before you vote on proposals to bring about changes to parking in our town this Thursday, we  would like extend an invitation to you all to come to Haslemere a few minutes before the meeting starts and pay a visit to our High Street.  It is just a couple of hundred metres from Haslemere Hall, a two minute walk away.

We would like to show you how the parking bays in front of Costa Coffee and at the bottom of Shepherds Hill are used by a constant stream of people who drive into the spaces, at an angle as they have done for many many years without any problem.  You would observe how these drivers and their passengers visit a range of shops in the High Street,  this may be the chemist to pick up a prescription, the independent newsagent or book shop, to buy some fish or bread from our small, family run fishmongers and bakery, to order some photocopying from the print shop, or make a purchase at our community charity shop.

There is a one hour time restriction on these bays and so they are used for people paying a quick visit to town.  You will also be able to watch drivers successfully reverse out of these spaces.  Sometimes the traffic has to slow to let them out, which improves safety for pedestrians and all vehicles.  As Surrey County Council is aware these are not accident black spots as despite repeated requests for data, SCC officers are not able to provide any statistical evidence to support the proposal that the current parking regime has become so dangerous that angled or echelon parking must be changed to parallel parking.

A visit to these parking bays would also demonstrate how the change to parallel parking that you are all about to vote on will remove 8-10 parking spaces.  We would then like to  introduce you, as our elected representatives,  to some of the shopkeepers trying to survive in very tough economic circumstances and with growing competition from the internet and out of town shopping complexes where parking is free.  They would very much like to share how these free on-street parking spaces are vital to their survival.   During your visit you will walk past the growing number of empty shop premises, some vacant for over 2 years.  The President of the Chamber of Commerce would be available to share with you how many businesses are teetering on the brink of closure.

Please do come and meet with us before you vote on decisions that will affect our lives and the vitality of our community. We very much appreciated the fact that SCC Leader David Hodge and SCC Chief Executive David McNulty took the time to pay such a visit last year, spending time observing how traffic flows and the parking works.  They concluded that the town seems to work pretty well as it is.  If you could take the time we would very much like to show you that their conclusion was spot on.  These parking bays work very well,  no change to the status quo is needed or wanted (as over 50 letters of objection testified) and as David Hodge himself stated back in November, “It’s important that local people can park outside shops.”

Unfortunately there will not be sufficient time for us to take you to the very small stretch of pavement in front of the Methodist Church, where SCC intends to paint the double yellow lines that you will be voting on.  The church has repeatedly had its pleas for consideration ignored by the LAC, so we would like to show you how much this limited section of unrestricted parking means to those who have mobility problems.  A visit would give you all the opportunity to observe that, although this space is not parked on very often,  it is a vital parking space for some of the most vulnerable members of our community as it serves the church, including community activities, as well as the small row of shops (including a chemist) adjacent to the church.  We understand that these proposed double yellow lines are being justified on the grounds of safety and congestion, but no statistical evidence has been given to support this.

Do let us know if you are able to come in time to include a visit to our great independent tea shop, Darnley’s for a cup of tea or coffee.  We will be there from 1.30pm to welcome anyone that can make it.  It is just opposite one of the parking bays in question and will provide a perfect vantage point from which you will be able to to see for yourselves how well the existing parking bays function.

We very much look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

 

Nikki Barton

——————

From: Nikki Barton [mailto:removed] Sent: 23 January 2013 1:43 PM
To: Editor
Subject: OPEN LETTER TO MEMBERS OF SCC’s WAVERLEY LOCAL AREA COMMITTEE

1 comment for “Open Letter to members of @SurreyCouncil’s Waverley Local Area Committee

  1. Victorialeake
    24/01/2013 at 12:16

    24 January 2013.
    Dear Waverley Local Committee Members
    There are two fundamental parking problems in Haslemere.
    The first fundamental problem is that there are too many cars for the number of parking spaces in the town. And the situation is getting worse because of the growing number of commuters who drive to Haslemere to use the train station. To solve that problem you must either increase parking capacity, or limit the total number of parking spaces. The proposed parking scheme does neither. In fact it reduces total parking capacity. That is because the scheme allocates residents to particular parking spaces. So if those residents are not using those spaces they will be left empty. Other residents will rightly feel angry and frustrated seeing empty parking spaces they are not allowed to park in.
    The second fundamental problem is that commuters park in the town centre because it is close to the train station. The logical solution to that problem is to have a single zone in the town centre where residents can park and people can access shops, while commuters park away from the town centre. But the proposed parking scheme doesn’t do that either. It displaces commuters to roads in and around the town centre, for example, Tanners Lane.
    So why do some residents want to join the proposed scheme? They do so because they fear the consequences of being excluded. Residents of Sandrock told you that explicitly. And please do not tell us that this will be addressed in Phase 2. The proposed ROP scheme will always make the aggregate parking situation worse. So any Phase 2 to extend such as scheme is a non-starter.
    How did you get here? You will remember that this Committee decided in June not to follow the Council Leader’s advice for an open consultation but instead to push ahead with ROPs where it was widely accepted that it would not result in significant car displacement. But over 600 residents told you overwhelmingly in your statutory consultation that they think there will be significant car displacement. So you surely have to reconsider the decision you made in June?
    What other options are there? Residents have already offered good ideas to Council Officers for increasing parking capacity and improving the distribution of parking.
    One suggestion is a 1-hour per day parking curfew in the town centre, which would allow local residents to park during the curfew. That would be an improvement for all residents living in the town centre and for local businesses. It would cause minimal car displacement and it would be cheap to enforce.
    This very scheme is used in the Council Leader’s district of Tanbridge. And Councillor Mulliner has worked up the idea into a concrete proposal, which Mr Renshaw has seen, but for some reason you have not considered as a committee.
    To sum up, there are three points I would like the committee to consider:
    1. The current proposed ROP scheme would make the town’s parking problems worse in aggregate for residents and businesses. Extending it in Phase 2 can only make things worse and so is a non-starter.

    2. You are only considering the proposed ROP scheme because you assumed in June that it was widely accepted that there would be no displacement from ROPs. That has proved to be false.

    3. There are good, viable alternatives to ROPs in Haslemere. For example, we think if the curfew parking scheme can work for the Council Leader’s district it can work for us too. And you should be under a duty to consider that alongside the proposal you have in front of you.
    Jeremy and Victoria Leake, Lower Street, Haslemere.

Comments are closed.