Parking: Val Compton's letter to Wiltshire Council

Written by Val Compton on .

To Wiltshire Council - in response to their consultation on parking increases and changes:


The Situation
I want to explain exactly how the proposed raising of car parking charges (specifically season tickets) along with a total lack of residents’ parking, impacts the lives of ordinary people who have lower incomes and how those rises will exacerbate the problem.

I am 71 years-old, have two disabled adult children and need a car to reach both. It was the stress of not being able to park on my return home that forced me into buying a Season Ticket for Kennet Place Car Park four years ago. Then it was a season ticket only car park, now it doubles with pay and display and we increasingly often struggle to park at time of high usage.

The effect of price rises
Should your season ticket prices be raised, I and many others, will not be able to afford to buy one. If the price increased to £720 in Kennet Place Car Park, then along with my council tax, I would be sending 15 per cent of my income to Wiltshire Council annually.

This year will probably be the last season ticket I purchase, as even the lower price is hard to find on a small pension and I juggled my finances, making the decision not to have even a modest break, by attending a course at Marlborough Summer School from home, in order that I could have the ever decreasing opportunity to park my car in the now very busy Kennet Place Car Park.

The changes
From 22 years ago, when I moved in, the parking problem in Marlborough has drastically worsened, with all spare pieces of land, kerbside parking etc. being taken out of use.  I have campaigned for residents’ parking to no avail and after a great deal of work and surveying with the support of your officers, eventually I gave up. I ran Cars Residents And Marlborough Parking (CRAMP) for many years. I believe your last council survey for Residents’ Parking in Marlborough was circa 1996.

What happens when there is no Residents Parking
The situation in Kennet Place, where I live, is that there are 6 free spaces in the road which has a terrace of eight houses. Were we able to use the spaces, it would be inadequate, but much easier. As it is, because the spaces are not limited by time or a Residents’ Parking scheme, they are (quite legitimately) used by people who do not live in Kennet Place.

We have had a Landrover stored down here in the same place for over 7 months. In the past it was a car collector who had a space for well over a year. Cars belonging to people who live nearby, often do not move for days or weeks. The most galling parking, is the car swapping system, where one car parked safely on private land, is brought to the road to ‘save a space’ while the other car leaves temporarily. There are often times when not one single resident can park here. Quite distressing for workers who come home from a night shift only to have to drive around town to find a space and then walk home.

Angel Yard Social Housing tenants will also naturally use the parking when they can, as the planning department in their wisdom, decreed there should not be sufficient parking for every dwelling when they were built. Local residents in private estates, also use us for ‘extra parking’ for a second car, or when friends and relatives either visit or go on holiday, leaving their car in a place where it will be safe!

Why it happens
All of the above is perfectly legal, but only legal, because Wiltshire Council refuse to look at a Residents’ or Parking Permit Scheme of any kind.

The Solution
Is there a solution to the problem? Yes, I believe there is, by some reorganisation of the system. Of course, if Marlborough Town Council are able to purchase the land they require from yourselves for Residents’ Parking, that will assist, although never solve the problem completely. Wiltshire Council surely have some duty towards their tax paying residents in Marlborough, it was so disappointing to be refused for a community asset transfer of this land.

Please consider this idea: If Kennet Place ‘free kerbside spaces’ became time limited spaces, of 20 or 30 minutes, they could be doubled up with unlimited time for those who had purchased a Parking Permit, which would allow them to legally park beyond the time limit stated.

As many residents work, this would allow the spaces to be utilised in the day for collection of take away food from the local cafes or pop in calls, thus the space would never be wasted. There would be no right to a space but a greatly increased opportunity for a permit holding resident to park, although perhaps having to wait for a space to become free.

However, just taking Kennet Place in isolation would be too small a scheme to implement, the creation of parking zones would be required. I suggest joining Kennet Place with The Parade and perhaps part of the London Road, to utilise all the existing time limited parking spaces to double up with Parking Permits for unlimited time, where appropriate.

The expense of changing all signage could be avoided, by designing additional Signage.  For example, signage that states ‘Zone 1 Parking Permit Holders - time unlimited’ added underneath existing signs. Permits would only be issued for the zone in which you live.

Those buying a parking permit for any particular Zone in Marlborough would be made aware of the limits of their zone and all rules on application to Wiltshire Council. The council would be paid for spaces for which they have never previously collected payment. As the time limited areas are already patrolled, there would be no increase in cost for Enforcement Officers, just a tweak in the computerised system. (Kennet Place would of course require new signage to time limit the current free kerbside parking and appropriate lines as well.)

Our current single and double yellow lines in Kennet Place are in the right place for safety, preventing parking from 8am-6pm, although with so few patrols, are regularly abused. Breaking the rules is considered nothing more than a routine challenge to avoid being caught by many, which is frustrating.

I would suggest that at first, only one permit per household be issued, increasing on a provable ‘statement of need’ with criteria decided by Wiltshire Council.  This would ensure that those with ‘hobby vehicles’ would be forced into season ticketed car parks to store them. Most residents parking schemes also offer ‘Visitor passes’ which would be welcome.

Never waste the space
A system of dual usage for spaces, (which has been tried and tested by other towns) will ensure more movement and fairer use, pushing longer term parking into the pay & display or season ticket car parks.  It will also hopefully stop the anger and frustration, pitting one local driver against another looking for a space, which is now happening on a daily basis. Tempers run high and the misery of trying to park is a topic of conversation.

If you, as a council, truly believe the words on your logo “where everybody matters”, then I hope you will consider this idea and endeavour to help us solve this problem, which hits hardest the residents on the lowest incomes. Judging by the last 20 years experience, it is only going to get worse.

Val Compton