Some of you will no doubt be aware of the plans by Hampshire County Council to introduce parking charges to Lymington High Street following their taking over of the responsibility for parking from the NFDC.
Chamber directors have held meetings with HCC officers in an attempt to clarify what is happening. The following is a summary from a meeting with Mark Samways, Highways Manager, Safer Roads and Traffic Management (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the officer in charge of Highways Engineering.
The HCC is currently looking to introduce charges in Lymington, Fareham and Lee-On-Solent, in the pipeline are plans for New Milton, Ringwood and the Barton on Sea seafront.
It was stated that Lymington was chosen initially because of its particular issues and the HCC believe that they can improve the safety and efficiency of use of parking spaces. They said that 4 separate surveys have been done, which showed on average 150 vehicles each time overstaying their 1 hour permitted stay, however, they did not say who had done the surveys. There was also mention of safety issues relating to double parking, u-turns etc. although it is unclear how this might be positively affected by the charging plans. There was also an admission that this is expected to raise revenue for the HCC.
How will the system work?
- Payment will be made at roadside ticket machines, which will take either cash or contactless card, or by using the RingGo app.
- The first 20 minutes will be free.
- 10-minute free overstay as long as a ticket has been purchased.
- Maximum stay is 2 hours.
- If using RingGo, payment will be taken for the full 2 hours.
- The charge is expected to be £1.10 per hour, commensurate with the NFDC car parks.
- Charges will apply Monday to Friday 9-6
There will be no marked bays, the intention is to utilise current parking places but there is a possibility that some places that currently have yellow lines will be converted to parking bays. The disabled and loading bays will stay as-is but the coach drop-off point will be moved to outside the betting shop.
There was talk of a possible electric vehicle charging space, although this may result in an empty space a lot of the time, at least until electric vehicles get more popular.
Parking Enforcement will be done by a company called NSL, who have the contract across Hampshire. They will operate Monday to Friday but could be on call for a Saturday if there was a vehicle obstructing the market traders. It is possible there may be a compound where vehicles could be towed if necessary, however, no details were given.
Parking machines will be put on the pavement every 8 to 10 parking spaces, they are about 1.5m high and they will be about 0.5m in from the kerb. They will have solar panels on the top.
Planning permission for these machines is not required, as this is considered to be traffic enforcement. The HCC did speak of possibly wanting to put notices on buildings, but this will NOT be allowed, because of the Conservation area status.
The contract with the Enforcement Company is already signed
The procurement exercise for the equipment is in progress
The Traffic Order process will be formally advertised in the Summer of 2020 – this is all the consultation there will be.
The Chamber believes that this is a done deal as far as the HCC is concerned. They are presenting the scheme on the grounds of safety, but we believe it to simply be a money-making exercise, although we have some doubts how effective it will be in that regard, once initial and running costs are factored in. This is not a pilot scheme, and since the HCC has no benchmark data against which to compare, any meaningful evaluation will be somewhat dubious.
We do not believe this to be in the best interests of the retail businesses in the High Street and have joined with other similarly concerned local organizations and businesses to advance our views. It may be that the HCC does not intend to be deflected from their plans and if that is the case, we must make sure that they are held accountable for how they implement the scheme. However, we do intend to pursue every available avenue to make local views known.
If you have any thoughts or opinions, please send them to the Chamber president email@example.com.
The Lymington and District Chamber of Commerce Board.