Back in January I predicted that the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Car Parking Review would be completed and the decision would be popular with the majority of residents.
I decided to speak on the issue when it came to full Council and voted to support the findings and recommendations of the Review as I did feel the Council had listened to people over the last few months and thought the report and its recommendations reflected what people have told us – it was about compromise and by and large I think overall the majority of East Riding residents will be happy, but there are a few who will not - and some who never will be.
The most common comments I’d heard was regarding the half an hour free parking, I acknowledge this would be long enough to go to the bank or chemist – but perhaps not for visiting the hairdressers, visiting more than one shop, or having a leisurely cup of coffee.
For me car parking should be localised as much as possible and decision-making should be made at the local level.
Prior to the Council meeting I, along with Goole North Cllr Jean Kitchen, Prospective Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole Andrew Percy, and ERYC Portfolio Holder for car parking Cllr Matthew Grove attended a meeting of business people in Goole to discuss car parking in the town. It was clear that the business people where giving out mixed messages; on one hand they thought that having charges on car parking would prevent customers coming into the town - and on the other complaining that there was nowhere to park as presently the carparks are full during the day, which deterred customers.
Herein lies the issue of how important footfall is to traders in places such as Goole. A carpark is of little use if it is full, no trader wants to see a would-be customer to driving around a carpark, not able find a space and so drives off. A customer needs to be able to park with relative ease, do their shopping have a cup of coffee or whatever, and then depart, leaving a car parking space for the next customer. One only has to observe what happens in a large supermarket carpark to see how this works.
This is why carparking needs to be managed – managed to achieve the maximum footfall through the doors of local businesses and this is how parking charges can really benefit the business community.
But this is not going to be achieved by a ‘one size fits all’ policy on carparking and the ERYC Car Parking Review report sought to recognise this - the sea front parking at Bridlington is different to Goole town centre, Beverley is different to Willerby, and Hedon is different to Hessle.
It was my opinion that the Council is providing a template that can be adapted or added to by Town or Parish Councils, or business groups if they wish. I would fully support any community that wished to increase the free parking from half an hour – BUT it is important that the decision for this should be made locally, by local people and businesses, it could and should, be then funded locally through the Town or Parish Council precept, a local levy, or voluntary contributions…
Finally this is not going to happen tommorrow as the recommendendations will not come into force for two years, a lot can happen in the next two years, and I hope the ERYC will use this time in helping local people come up with local solutions to car parking in their communities… Isn’t this what localism is all about?