Transcription, @WaverleyBC Executive – shoppers’ parking permit scheme trial for Haslemere High Street (Waitrose) car park

Yesterday evening, WBC’s Executive agreed a Haslemere shoppers’ pilot scheme of an annual season ticket for £50 to park in the High Street (Waitrose) car park between 3pm and 5.30pm, Mondays – Wednesday,  with a quarterly review.

This was during a discussion of Item 22 APPENDIX Q WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL EXECUTIVE – 02/07/2013: PROPOSAL FOR SHOPPERS’ PARKING PERMIT SCHEME TRIAL – HASLEMERE HIGH STREET CAR PARK. Transcription below.

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL, EXECUTIVE, 2 JULY 2013, Transcription ITEM 22: Proposal for shoppers’ parking permit scheme trial at Haslemere High Street (Waitrose) car park.

Cllr Knowles: Item 22: Proposal for shoppers’ parking permit scheme trial at Haslemere High Street (Car Park). Cllr Lee, I understand you would like to speak and I will allow that despite missing 12 o’clock. Thank you.

Cllr Lee: Thank you very much for your indulgence, I will know in future. Thank you very much everybody for letting me speak. The Haslemere parking pilot came out of a meeting with the traders and our purpose is to demonstrate support for traders by increasing the number of people who just drop in and are currently thought to be deterred by the hassle of finding 80p in change for the machine or for whom an hour is frankly barely sufficient to do Waitrose. And yet, £1.60 for 2 hours in Haslemere deters them from going into other shops. There’s been a drop off, they shop online or go to Guildford and a number of our traders are in really quite serious financial distress. We also had the problems of the gasworks which caused a problem for quite some time. I’ve come to speak because I think there a few flaws in some of the minor issues of this and I’m hoping that you will understand me. 3pm – 5pm assumes everyone wants to start shopping at exactly 3pm to get a maximum of 1 hour 45 minutes before they run back to make sure that the Enforcement Officer doesn’t do them. Whereas the idea was to attract those who might have 3 or 4 o’clock school pick ups or who might drop in on their way home and we’re trying to do the droppings in and we really aren’t assuming that everybody is going to turn up on the dot at 3 o’clock. I think a lot of the amendments were made on the basis of some over-estimate of the potential cost to Waverley which boiled around the concept that we are giving away 6 hours parking. I mean, with respect, few people shop in Haslemere for more than 2 hours. Even with an hour in Waitrose, there are simply not enough shops. Not many people shop in Haslemere more than once Monday to Wednesday. Nobody goes to London on the 3.30pm train regularly. If season ticket holders do swap to Monday well, actually we might sell a few more tickets on Thursdays and Fridays when the car park’s currently full. Secondly, limiting ticket holders to 50 season tickets will benefit just a tiny number of people and is too small to have any impact on the retailers. It’s just not worth the advertising and set up costs for such a small number. 6 months is too short. People are going to look at this, factor in holidays and Christmas and decide the benefit is just simply not worth the hassle of replying. This is supposed to reduce the hassle of having to get your change and all the rest of it. Really, for any such scheme, it will take a while to get off the ground and it will be impossible to assess the pilot if numbers are too small whereas I think that in time a similar scheme could well benefit Farnham who I think have had their own problems with gasworks and indeed Cranleigh and Godalming. So, my proposals would be 3pm – 6pm, Monday to Wednesday. A one year season ticket trial. About the 200 hundred limit on seasons to sort of reflect the numbers in the car park. I haven’t checked what that is. I would suggest £50 a year for the ticket which would allow roughly 1.25 hours per week in terms of cost. And, I think to get it to go, an advert in Making Waves, articles in the Herald, social networks, haslemereparking.com website which is quite well patronised would be sufficient. It shouldn’t be onerous. I think a season ticket in the car similar to our Waverley passes would make it pretty easy for Enforcement Officers. So, the true cost to Waverley, given there are 60 spaces free every afternoon by my guesstimate, is actually minimal. If  200 season tickets were sold, the upfront revenue is £10,000 and Waverley only lose money if all these people routinely shop twice a week Monday to Wednesday and we don’t sell any more tickets for the space they then create Thursday or Friday. And don’t forget, season ticket holders will still pay if they want to come and shop on Thursday and Friday. However, if we do generate more trips, more droppings in, the traders and the town will benefit at minimal cost to Waverley. I really appreciate the fantastically swift way in which this has been brought to Executive. A full scheme could attract criticism and we’d be told we hadn’t thought it through. But I don’t want you to pull it because we don’t want to miss the summer and be accused of doing nothing to help our struggling shops. So, I do really hope that you will find that these modest amendments that I’ve made to the scheme can be accepted by the Executive because I really believe they give the pilot the best chance of success. Thank you.

Cllr Knowles: Thank you. Cllr King.

Cllr King: Thank you very much indeed Leader. I apologise I’m croaky again tonight. I’m sorry. I don’t know why. This report, you recall, was brought forward at very short notice to meet the council’s formal process. It’s a pity that Cllr Lee didn’t actually speak to me before this evening because I probably could have let her have a nice quiet evening at home because I propose to make some changes to this report. As the report quite clearly says, for some time now, the Haslemere Chamber of Commerce has been expressing its concerns about the poor trading situation in the town. Trying to address some of these, ward members have had meetings with the Chamber of Commerce to try and look at ways that we can actually help them to improve their footfall. From discussions, it’s obviously considered that car parking is one amongst the concerns for the retailers. Two specific issues are the cost of the parking and the sheer inconvenience, as Cllr Lee has said, of having to find the right change for the cash only pay & display system that is currently in operation. During the discussions, several suggestions came forward. One of them is the refund scheme that the retailers could operate themselves and I believe they are starting to look into that. The other is the shoppers’ permit scheme which is the subject of the report. The proposal was that we could produce a shoppers’ permit limited by time and limited by day of the week to when the car park is less busy than it is mid-week to the end of the week. It will only apply to the High Street car park in Haslemere which is in fact the most expensive of the car parks in Haslemere. Here I want to come to my changes. Paragraph 5B, I want to change that please to be a 12 month trial to gauge the take up. I would like to express strongly, it will be a trial so that we can assess the benefit to the traders and the effect it actually has on car park use and on Waverley itself. I intend to retain the trail to 50 permits initially but propose to review this each quarter throughout the year and adjust it as appropriate. Customers will be able to buy a 12 month permit at a cost of £50 and it will allow them to park between 3pm and 5.30pm, there is another change there, Mondays to Wednesdays. I certainly commend the paper and the recommendation to members.

Cllr Knowles: Thank you very much. Have the officers got the changes there? Yes, I’ll second the changes. Thank you. Colleagues. Anyone? Cllr Webster.

Cllr Webster: If I could be brief, Chairman, as is my wont. I think it is very good that this paper has been brought forward so quickly. I think it would be good for the morale of the shopkeepers. I think they’ve got a big problem. It’s a big problem throughout the country. The internet is a big problem. My daughter buys a book over the internet at half the price of the Haslemere Book Shop and she gets it the next day. That’s a slight exaggeration, half the price. I think we can improve our signage to the car parks. People say to me that they can’t find the car parks. I’ve been able to find them for fifty years. The gasworks have been a real blow to shopkeepers in Haslemere and I think this sort of scheme, as a trial, will be good for the morale of shopkeepers. I think the problem is a lot more deep seated than just car parking but, let’s give it a try.

Cllr Knowles: Thank you very much. Cllr Potts.

Cllr Potts: Thank you Leader. I think this is a really great and very innovative idea from Cllr King and the members who’ve been involved in this. And, really encouraging to see them reacting to the traders in Haslemere. Cllr Webster said that there are difficulties in towns across the country and trading is tough. You know, retailers are having tough times as are many of us. And, what I would like to see, and what I would be very interested to see is, the review over the year and how this really works and I think then we may need to look at, in the interests of fairness, you know, is this something perhaps we can do with the other four, sorry the other three, one’s a village and two are actually towns within the borough.

Cllr Band: Thank you. Well Cllr Potts has just said much of what I was going to say but I think the focus is it is a trial and I think I particularly welcome the extension from 6 months to 12 months as I think that will give much more reliable evidence to the effectiveness or otherwise and I think the point about the speed of initial take up is particularly pertinent in a trial like this and I do think 6 months would have been too short and would have given a false impression of its effectiveness so, I welcome all these changes but particularly the extension to 12 months.

Cllr Knowles: Thank you very much and I think if we can certainly look at the 50 permits and review it. If they are taken up, then we can do something about that. There are only 147 or something spaces, although they won’t all come at once. Of course if we were selling more someone will pick it up and say, “Well, how are you selling those when you’ve only got that many spaces?” Because, of course, as a council we can never do anything right. Cllr King.

Cllr King: Sorry Leader. Just to follow on from that point, on the number of spaces there are some re-surfacing works due to take place in that car park there on the schedule which is why I want to keep spaces under control throughout the period. Thank you.

Cllr Knowles: Thank you very much. Cllr Morgan.

Cllr Morgan: Thank you Chairman. I would just like to pick up on something that Cllr Potts has said. Haslemere is not the only trading town in our borough and there are particular difficulties in Godalming and in Farnham too for that matter. I would like to see this scheme extended to particularly Godalming and Farnham. I think possibly Cranleigh might be interested too but that’s a slightly different kettle of fish. So, I would like to have some sort of informal undertaking that the same opportunity will be offered to the other towns and senior parish in our community if this is a success. Thank you, Chairman.

Cllr Knowles: Indeed, that is the whole purpose of having a trial or a pilot to see how it works and should that be the case then we will take that course of action. Let’s go to the recommendation, Item 22. Subject to the amendments that have been made to the script, is that agreed?

Many voices: Agreed.

Cllr Knowles: Thank you.