@WaverleyBC’s discussion of Chestnut Avenue and Waitrose car parks

From the webcast of Waverley Borough Council’s Executive meeting on Tuesday, here is a summary that only relates to Chestnut Avenue and High Street <Waitrose> car parks in Haslemere. (Discussion about other non-Haslemere car parks has been removed). The item came immediately after the Chestnut Avenue petition was presented.

Cllr Mike Band: As you were aware this <Chestnut Avenue car park> was an agenda item anyway but because of the petition we have decided to bring it forward and debate it now rather than wait until its place in the meeting so, I will invite Cllr Carole King to introduce the report.

Cllr Carole King: Thank you Chairman. Thank you Mrs Evans for your petition. Very well presented. As colleagues will be aware, the car park review took place in 2011, approved by the council on 13th December 2011 and most of the recommendations were implemented on 1st February. They weren’t all implemented. There were three outstanding actions from that report.

One is ….. charges in High Street Haslemere … and post six o’clock use of Chestnut Avenue in Haslemere as just outlined.

The consultation period for the parking order solicited a total of 22 responses – 17 from Milford, 2 from Haslemere, 2 from Beacon Hill/Hindhead and 1 from Bramley.

First of all on the report you’ll see <transcription skips discussion re. Station Lane (Milford)> Chestnut Avenue in Haslemere on page 20 of your report. This offers a short to medium stay option to meet local needs. As a result no increase in charging to park for up to 7 hours was approved by council last December.  As with the whole of the borough, lifestyles and shopping habits have changed since the last parking review. There is now more demand for car parking after 6pm. The council therefore agreed to extend the parking charge from 6pm to 7pm across all borough car parks. Two complaints were received after the implementation – one was from Haslemere Hall and one from Haslemere Museum, both concerned that the additional 50p to park would be unfair to their volunteers. It doesn’t say anything at all about the daytime volunteers of both these organisations who use the car park and have always paid the full hour however long they need to be there. Both organisations incidentally receive a grant from Waverley. No other complaints were received from Haslemere until the petition was started. The petition and all the other letters received – and they are all reflected on page 35 of your report – were taken into consideration by officers when reviewing the use of the car park. Since the introduction of the new charging and extension of time, car park usage in Haslemere has risen considerably as you’ll see from the table on page 21. Despite the comments received from the residents and the petition, although they have both been considered, the actual practice on the ground does not appear to have any material change whatsoever.

<The transcription skips the season ticket prices for Godalming and Farnham>.

The last item covered on the report on page 23 is the High Street in Haslemere. For unknown historic reasons this car park has had very low parking charges for such a prominent town centre site. The review revealed that motorists were frequently driving around the car park trying to find a space. The demand for short stay parking had increased to such a level that the car park was re-designated as a prime site. The correct charge for this category of car park should have been introduced in February but I considered this was too large an increase in one go so, to ease the increase, I proposed an interim charge from February 2012 which actually happened. We’ve had no complaints at all about this. This car park is still very heavily used. I now propose that the tariff be increased with effect from April 2013. It is also interesting to note that this car park has the highest one hour purchase of car parking tickets in the whole borough. Thank you Chairman.

Cllr Mike Band: Thank you to the officers for that detailed work which has gone into this report. Anybody wish to comment?

<Skip item ref Station Road, Milford and the medical practice discussion>

Cllr Jim Edwards: A very brief comment. Going back to Chestnut Avenue. It is causing a lot of problems in Haslemere, particularly to the volunteers. As a family, we volunteer in Haslemere Hall so I have some interest there. But it is being very badly received in the town and I think we need to look at that. Thank you.

Cllr Mike Band: Do you wish to comment further Cllr King?

Cllr Carole King: I shall leave the figures to speak for themselves, Chairman.

Cllr Mike Band: Thank you. Anybody else wish to comment?

Cllr Adam Taylor-Smith: In particular in relation to Chestnut Avenue, I must admit it is not a car park I frequent very often… I have to look at the figures in front of us and I think they are compelling as to how it has been operating since the charging period has been extended. I just wondered whether in the same way as we are reviewing the position with Milford, presumably we have reviewed the position in relation to Chestnut Avenue and you know it has been operating. My question to the Portfolio Holder is whether a further review of this in the future would be good given we’ve got a 1,000 person petition before us?

Cllr Carole King: I’d be happy to carry out a further review, Chairman, if members and colleagues think the outcome would be any different.

Cllr Mike Band: I would like to say I think the car parking across Waverley has been handled in a very even-handed way and I think officers are to be congratulated. Having said that, I actually agree with Cllr Taylor-Smith. I see no harm in adding Chestnut Avenue to the review to take place in 12 months’ time. In the light of the comments and the petition being presented to us, it would seem to me to be appropriate that we add that to the recommendation. I don’t know what other members feel but is there a consensus? Do you think we should be doing that? What would other members like to do? If we are adding that to the recommendation, then we should go to the recommendations on Page 3.

We need to amend the review to include both Station Lane and Chestnut Avenue Car Park in 12 months’ time if we can accommodate that.

In summary, no revision of Chestnut Avenue car park charges or extended hours but there will be a review in 12 months. Increases to Waitrose car park will take effect in April 2013.