Visitors to Eastleigh complain of “litter, broken glass, dog fouling, grubby streets, closed and empty shops… and an excess of takeaways, bookmakers and charity shops.” While motorists complain that Eastleigh has high parking charges, “overzealous” enforcement of parking regulations and perceive buses as “expensive, unreliable and irregular”.
These are the findings of a recent public consultation on Transport and access issues for Eastleigh Town centre published recentl. Hundreds of responses have been collated and analysed which help form the new ‘Eastleigh Town Centre Access Plan’ (ETAP).
The research shows that the majority of visitors, 44% travel to Eastleigh using their own cars or motorbikes while only 17% use public transport and 9% cycle.
A third of visitors to the town described access as ‘difficult’ or worse while car user’s criticised Eastleigh as having:
“Congestion, high parking charges, parking restrictions, lack of drop-off points or short stay parking, overzealous enforcement, and inconvenient road layout or traffic calming.”
Half of the respondents said they visited Eastleigh for shopping with 14% coming for leisure and 5% for work.
The majority of visitors arrive during the daytime with only 14% during the evening.
Other concerns by visitors included:
“lack of big name retail outlets and independent specialists, and an excess of takeaways, bookmakers and charity shops”.
The report also stated that:
“The Bus and Railways stations are perceived to be run down and the current facilities lacking and in need of improvement.”
The criticism of town centre access by motorists comes at a time when the council is considering granting planning permission for a hotel in the town centre – with no car parking facilities. Guests will either have to arrive on foot or taxi or else park in a council car park for £8 day.
The perception by motorists that Eastleigh is expensive for parking is supported by Eastleigh News research (see here) which revealed that the cost of long term parking was more expensive in Eastleigh than in neighbouring towns and cities and that even disabled drivers – who may not have the option to park elsewhere – are charged to use the Swan Centre car park.
Councillor Louise Bloom, who has responsibility for the environment on the council cabinet, recently told a meeting of local Friends of the Earth activists that she ‘refused to apologise’ for car parking charges and claimed they formed part of the councils commitment to tackle climate change.
Read the findings of the public consultation here
Read Town Centre Manager and Town Partnership chairman Dee Bufone’s take on town centre performance as published in the Daily Echo