@WaverleyBC declines request for free parking via @HaslemereShops

In an earlier blog post we wrote that Waverley Borough Council could not offer free parking after 2pm during the town’s gas works as it would mean this concession would force Waverley Borough Council to increase business rates. Today we read on the Keep Calm website that the Waverley Borough Council have again declined a request for free parking but they will help support traders to get reduced business rates and they will help Haslemere businesses in the process to seek compensation from Southern Gas. Of course, these gestures are made with “no guarantees” and yet the parking concession after 2pm would create goodwill and would come with an absolute guarantee.

Waverley has offered its support to Haslemere traders to get reduced business rates as a result of disruption caused by gas works in the town. Help in seeking compensation from the gas company has also been offered by Waverley to businesses in Haslemere. However the request for free parking in the town’s car parks has been declined.

Business rate officers at Waverley have been working with the Government-run Valuation Office on how Haslemere businesses can recoup money during the gas works period when they may suffer a loss in trade.

“It could be a lengthy process for Haslemere traders to get compensation from Southern Gas Networks,” Leader of the Waverley Borough Council, Cllr Robert Knowles, explained.

“However, Waverley has written to Haslemere Chamber of Commerce to explain that we have people available to help traders in submitting claims for compensation. Furthermore, Waverley’s officers have spent a lot of time working with the Valuation Office to see where traders stand on business rates. There are no guarantees but once again Waverley is on hand to help firms to apply for business rate appeals.

“These are measures, which if successful, will guarantee to put money back in the tills of traders affected by the gas works; this is why we have undertaken so much work to support them.”

More information for Haslemere business seeking support and compensation as a result of the gas works is available at www.waverley.gov.uk/business

4 comments for “@WaverleyBC declines request for free parking via @HaslemereShops

  1. AndrewLoves
    30/05/2012 at 15:45

    This is typical of Waverley Borough Council. Let’s make the whole process over-complicated, and involve lots of red tape

    It’s not about creating a new job position within Waverley Borough Council. No wonder our council taxes are so high. Free parking after 2pm is a perfectly decent request.

    I suspect by the time any refunds are given, it is likely that any shops struggling will have gone under.

    Our shops need help NOW while the gas works are happening, not in 6 months’ time.

    It’s a bit of a shame that Waverley Borough Council can’t apologise for all this parking nonsense by at least offering free parking after 2pm.

  2. Paul M
    01/06/2012 at 12:57

    Waverley’s response is the right one. Retailers suffering the effects of the gas works need a financial burden to be lightened to help compensate their losses, and arguably their rates should be lower if they are not being provided with the rate-payer funded amenities (that is to say, the roads) for which their local taxes supposedly pay.

    If however those retailers are so fragile that their customers would prefer not to pay less than £1 to park in the town, but to consume twice that much in fuel to drive to, say, Midhurst or Godalming, then they have a rather bigger problem than the issue of parking. Like rapacious landlords which seems to be a big issue in Haslemere.

    There is certainly one legitimate gripe about Waverley’s parking policy though, and it is not the cost, which in the scheme of things, including the annual costs of owning and running a car, are negligible: it is the sheer bl**dy inconvenience. I was struck by this after we got a penalty notice because we slightly overran our time, having had insufficient coinage to buy more than an hour, and I then saw a pay & display in another borough, where a system called “Phonepay” permits you to set up an account. Then you just use your mobile to call up, follow the prompts to select which of your registered cars is involved, and select how many hours’ parking you want. That is done elsewhere, so Waverley’s 20th century coins-only and no-change-given approach needs to change – fast.

    Just making it free on a weekday afternoon is likely to lead to the kind of chaos suffered by the Welsh town of Aberystwyth, when they opted for a while to dispense with aprking controls http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2152638/Aberystwyth-lifts-traffic-warden-ban-time-Jubilee-free-chaos.html.

  3. AndrewLoves
    01/06/2012 at 14:16

    Dear Paul

    Waverley’s response is wrong in my mind for all the reasons listed above. We agree to disagree then.

    OK, so you would not drive all the way to Godalming, but I personally would drive to Tescos (until they start charging that is), particularly if, like you, I have no correct change in my pocket.

    Your are right Waverley does need to implement a ‘phonepay’ system. But how much is that going to cost, adding to increased charges no doubt?

    Landlords will only charge what the market will take unfortunately. That is a separate issue from offering free parking while the gas works are taking place.

    The example given of the Welsh town shows bad and illegal parking. Again that is a separate issue from offering free parking.

  4. Paul M
    12/06/2012 at 13:13

    Free parking is inextricably linked with bad parking. Why? Because to deal with bad or illegal parking you need enforcement, ie traffic wardens. These have to be paid for somehow, and if other drivers don’t pay for it through parking charges, that means council tax payers will have to pay for it.

    Parking charges can only be used to fund parking servces and a limited range of other transport-related projects. They cannot be used, as some people apparently believe, to fund other aspects of local authority spending – unless, that is, you regard the displacement effect (parking charges reducing the amount of council tax required to fund parking/roads related expenditure) as a subsidy to the council tax.

    At a local level, we should expect to pay a combination of taxes (general pool) and charges (for services we actually use). Charges help to modify people’s behaviour – water metering for example might discourage profligate use of a finite or even scarce resource. Surcharges might be appropriate for people who consistently overfill their waste bins. Parking charges can make people think about how their car use impacts on their neighbours and perhaps moderate their use, to their own and everyone else’s benefit.

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