Council in free parking u-turn

 ticket_picnik

 

Visitors to Eastleigh will once more be able to enjoy free on street parking for a limited time.

Eastleigh Local Area Committee – who have recently become responsible for setting parking charges in the town centre – voted for an experimental traffic order to allow free on- street parking for one hour along High St and Market St Monday 2 Dec to Friday 28 February.

Charges for two hour parking and evening periods will rise by 10 pence but all other parking charges, including residents parking permits, will be frozen follwing a consultation with Eastleigh Town Centre Partnership.

The scheme was proposed by Councillor Wayne Irish who said the aim was to promote economic growth in the town centre by increasing footfall along Market Street and High St.

Councillor Maureen Sollitt said:

“As somebody who does use the town centre a lot during the afternoons between three and five,  I must agree that the footfall through the town is very low at that time.

“I think this is a good way to encourage people to come into town for an hour.”

As in many other towns, the effect of parking charges on town trade has been a hot topic in Eastleigh.

Parking charges are a major source of income for councils who have been forced to freeze council tax by the government

In 2011 Eastleigh Borough Council introduced charges for disabled drivers and Sunday parking.

Winchester Council – which was also Lib Dem controlled at the time – introduced Sunday charges as well but these were later overturned when the Conservatives regained control.

Eastleigh Conservative opposition group had proposed free parking during the Eastleigh council budget debate earlier in the year but it had met with a lukewarm response from the ruling Lib Dems with Cllr Bloom saying the figures “didn’t add up”.

Earlier this month in response to a question on free parking from Conservative Cllr Judith Grajewski  Council Leader Keith House said that annual revenue from parking was £325,000, the loss of which would be the equivalent of a 5% increase in council tax.

Cllr Grajewski told Eastleigh News last night:

 “It seems that the Lib Dems are beginning to come round to our way of thinking.”

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Stephen Slominski

I'm Stephen Slominski, reporter and admin for this site. I am a BJTC trained Journalist and have lived and worked in Eastleigh all my life. 

  33 comments for “Council in free parking u-turn

  1. November 13, 2013 at 3:04 am

    How funny that when parking charges were discussed during full council budget meetings, Councillor’s Wayne Irish and Moreen Sollitt, voted with their Fib Dem mates to introduce and INCREASE parking charges.

    I also remember Councillor Wayne Irish, vowing that parking charges in the Eastleigh South wards would not be introduced, yet WEEKS later, HE AND HIS FELLOW Fib Dems, voted unanimously to make residents pay additional parking fees in these very areas.

    What this clearly shows is that you cannot trust a bloody word the Fib Dems say in Eastleigh. They seem to change their minds more often than they change their underware.

    Funny also that when the Tories said they would do away with parking charges, their idea was rejected unamonsly by the Fib Dems because it would result in a 5% loss of revenue that local council tax payers would have to have added to their yearly bill.

    Now it seems it is a good idea. clearly it is getting harder and harder for the Fib Dems to come up with ANY real plans themselves and seem to be using all the Tories ones..

    If only the Fib Dems would also follow local Tory advice over The POINTless, this would save the local taxpayer £320,000 a year. That would allow council tax bills to be reduced by 5% year on year according to the Fib Dem own mathematics.!

  2. K. Harrison
    November 13, 2013 at 8:54 am

    I went to a consultation meeting when charges were introduced. I told them they’d kill the town centre, but the greedy idiots didn’t listen of course.

  3. K. Harrison
    November 13, 2013 at 9:18 am

    They were also very clear that parking charges would be cost neutral and charges would just cover the enforcement costs. Absolutely no mention of a £325k profit. Makes them liars as well as idiots.

  4. November 13, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I think this is to be welcomed and a step in the right direction. I think they should also consider free Sunday parking in the run up to Christmas.
    One Sunday last year we took advantage of free parking to go Christmas shopping in Winchester. I bumped into two of my neighbours and a stallholder who used to trade at Eastleigh.

  5. JUDITH GRAJEWSKI
    November 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Visitors to Darlington (up North!)will be able to enjoy free parking in ALL council operated car parks and on street parking bays after 3pm from Saturday December 7 until Tuesday December 24. Now that will be a real boost for hard pressed shoppers and shopkeepers.

  6. Pete Stewart
    November 13, 2013 at 10:25 am

    A GOOD START! But more needs to be done. I’ve spelled it out on Eastleigh News over the last 3 years. I’ve checked the archives to see when I first suggested free parking and here’s what I’ve found for 2010. If anyone can find an earlier proposal, then please reference here. See Eastleigh News archives. I’ll check for the expanded policy for later years.

    Sept 17, 2010, 7.45 p.m.

    “I would go further and remove all parking meters and car park charges. We enjoy a car based culture and to attack the motorist by imposing parking “taxes” is a serious error of judgement which can only damage the economy.”

    December 23, 2010 at 9:11 am

    “There are no easy ways to say this, but this policy of raising parking charges, small as it may seem, is nothing less than an attack on car drivers, the principle means of bringing shoppers into Eastleigh! It is an economic disaster in slow motion. So I say to the Council, see this and act now before it is too late!”

  7. Ken
    November 13, 2013 at 10:40 am

    It would be interesting to know what this does to the “footfall” of shoppers to Eastleigh. Speaking personally I avoid Eastleigh as a place to shop or indeed visit.

    The shops are poor,the streets dirty, the Swan Centre drab (smelling of cooking fat and cigarrettes) and the traffic abysmal. Not much to sell it as a place to shop when compared to other towns in the area.

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      November 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      They’re working on that one with a redesigned market place/town square. The council want to develop the market – they have taken over the management and are spending over half million pounds of developers contributions on establishing a new market setting in the heart of town which can double up as community space.
      At the moment it’s the Swan Centre’s leisure offerings – the Vue, The bowling alley and soft play park that’s keeping footfall up

  8. Shell
    November 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Are the council working on the travel issue too? the roads are atrocious and dont get me started on public transport in the area!

    Eastleigh will die if they dont address the infrastructure in the area especially if they build the 1000’s of homes the FIB DEMS want to build to accomodate economic migrants at great expense to the enviroment and local people.

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      November 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      I reckon they’ll say roads are the County Council’s job. Lots of agitation for a Chickenhall Lane link road though. Buses…there is actually a new service being launched tomorrow!
      Houses – for all that we heard in 2010 about no more ‘top down’ development planning I understand it’s the government telling councils to build houses – whether we want them or not.

  9. JUDITH GRAJEWSKI
    November 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    …but EBC is the local planning authority, not the government and not the County Council. EBC has to decide how many homes are needed and where they will be built.

    • November 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      No, WE decide where they go. I distinctly remember being asked to vote on one of two options!

      • Graham Hunter
        November 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        SHHH don’t mention Allington Lane. It is Easleigh’s Area 53.
        Dosen’t exist anymore!!

  10. JUDITH GRAJEWSKI
    November 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    They didn’t ask you, but EBC has to come up with the numbers! 10,140 is the EBC calculation of what is needed see Local Plan para 2.51.& Appendix 7 para 4.1
    Now. let’s get back to parking charges!

  11. Paula
    November 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    I dont remember be asked to vote on 1000’s of homes in Fair Oak and Horton Heath? And it distinctly looks like the FIB Dem Oligarchy at the town hall have made up their minds (Fair Oak and Horton Heath had no representation!) and are acting like an extension of the 3 wise monkeys! The number of houses “needed” appears to have been plucked out of thin air too! Shame on the lot of them

  12. Graham Hunter
    November 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    The Housing numbers I was told by an EBC officer come from the PUSH Spatial Strategy. (I thought Spatial Strategies had been scrapped under the Localism Bill!!).
    Seems they like plucking housing numbers (non elected body PUSH) and EBC use them, but seem rather reluctant to provide a strategy for transport and Infrastructure! The officer just said it was HCC!!

  13. Gurdy
    November 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    They shouldnt be able to ok housing without the infrastructure!? Or dont they care? ££££££££££££££££££

  14. JUDITH GRAJEWSKI
    November 13, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    The 10,140 homes figure is EBC’s “caculation” (and includes an extra 5% “for good measure”) of the borough’s housing need. See Local Plan para 2.51 not a figure from government and I have no intention of defending the number! Appendix 7 to Local Plan presents 10 different scenarios and each one results in a different forecast number. The numbers range from 3,438 dwellings (existing poulation growth + zero net migration) and 12,060 (based on Experian forecasts of future job growth). Anyone confused?

  15. Graham Hunter
    November 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Ahh now that’s a good one …Job growth. Where and more to the point who and what employers?
    Got a large manufacturing or research plant coming to Eastleigh have we?
    And jobs that pay a wage that will pay the mortgage or rent.
    Not hotel workers or fast food job wages
    Sounds like think of a number treble it, divide by 1, square it, divide by 1 again, think of another number add that to the original number and bingo.

  16. trev
    November 13, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Maybe that is the strategy of the FIB DEMS? That and divide and conquer….sure hope their bank accounts are being scrutinised/ the council’s anti-bribery and corruption policies are being adhered to.

  17. November 13, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Fear not my friends. The Fib Dem parking meter is fast running out in Eastleigh. Then it will be our turn to issue some parking fines of our own..

  18. Rosie
    November 13, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Used to visit Eastleigh town centre a lot before picking up other half at end of day, when street parking was free. Haven’t been back since parking charges were introduced! If I want to spend longer shopping somewhere and pay for parking, Eastleigh is the last place I’d go!

  19. Pete Stewart
    November 13, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Here’s what I said 29 January, 2011 (see Archive). Excuse point 4. Not well written. I meant to say it is no good trying to portray multi-storey car parks as some kind of “ideal”. People want to park right outside the shops or as near to as possible.

    QUOTE
    “I’ve watched the slow decline of Eastleigh caused by:
    1) the building of the Swan Centre (which split the town and robbed the “old quarter” of vital peripheral trade necessary to sustain the reasonably diverse shopping base we used to have there, which in turn reduced diversity and led to reduced shopper numbers,
    2) out of town shopping centres with free parking
    3) increasingly punitive car parking charges in Eastleigh town centre
    4) reduced parking spaces in the “old quarter” to divert cars into the multi-storey car park (thus attempting to create the false ideal of out of town parking)
    5) pedestrianization of Leigh Road and quasi-pedestrianization of Factory Road
    If Eastleigh is to survive as a shopping town, it MUST regenerate the “old quarter”, even if that appears to act against the Swan Centre. This regeneration can only come about by attracting shoppers IN THEIR CARS right into the heart of Eastleigh (Market St, High St, Leigh Road, Factory Road. Once this happens, both the Swan Centre and the “old quarter” will regenerate. ”
    UNQUOTE

  20. November 13, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    ………..and the winner is?

  21. November 13, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I don’t really care who originated the idea. I’m just pleased that some common sense has prevailed. Well done Eastleigh LAC.

    • November 14, 2013 at 3:41 am

      Common Sense and Fib Dem.

      Nope, not a phrase that make ANY sense to me.!!

  22. Paul Bicknell
    November 14, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Just for the record Eastleigh Local Area Committee was engaged with the Town Centre Partnership regarding parking well before the extra special full council meeting mentioned. It was not possible to make an anouncement at that meeting as final details were still being confirmed. We choose to listen and work in partnership with our local business leaders rather than listen to Eric Pickles so sorry to disappoint but no u-turn.
    Paul Bicknell
    Chair Eastleigh Local Area Committee

    • November 14, 2013 at 8:49 am

      Well there clearly has been a change in policy – just a couple of weeks ago an ELAC member was telling me that they didn’t have to have free onstreet parking as you could ‘never find a parking space’ showing ‘people are prepared to pay for it’.

      But as Ray says – it doesn’t matter how we got there – it was a good decision for Eastleigh and the committee is to be congratulated.

  23. Dave
    November 14, 2013 at 9:49 am

    They could always pay people to park in Eastleigh to shop? Lets face it its been turning into a ghost town for years and that Swan Centre is the biggest white elephant in the area; rather go to West Quay than slum it with the Chavs in Eastleigh

  24. Chris Thomas
    November 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    All fascinating, but misses the point, Parking in Market Street, High Street and the surface car parks is free on sundays at the moment. ELAC has offered an experiment to see the benefits, or not, of a free parking hour.

    The town will benefit if people use the shops, if you dont the shops will go. In Eastleigh, we are well below the average number of voids (empty shop fronts) across the country and in the south east!!! latest economic indicators also show Eastleigh performing well, with, and this is particularly pleasing, shrinking numbers of NEETS.

    It is fair to say that ELAC is not complacement and will work with anyone making practical and affordable suggestions to help the town.

    I for one, would love to see the Chickenhall lane Link Road in place, errrr £120 million is all it would take.

    Cheers

    Chris Thomas

    • anonymouse
      November 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      Why would anyone choose to shop in Eastleigh with the parking charges imposed? It’s grim, unattractive and has limited shopping opportunities. I would disagree with Chris Thomas. There are many empty shops in Eastleigh but they are all given over to charities to give the illusion of being operational shops. In fact, these places are given short term, reduced rate leases not reflecting business costs. There are now many, many charity shops and useful businesses such as hardward and specialist outlets have long since closed their doors.

      Many people who used to use Eastleigh town no longer visit. The car parking charges are ridiculous for limited, charmless shoppiing. This is a result of there being no ‘business’ minds amongst the Councillors and, as a Council, have a complete disregard for the local economy.. I know this from personal experience as a local business person..

      Why go there when Winchester offers free parking in most car parks from 4pm EVERY DAY and FREE PARKING every Sunday? (Plus a pleasant, well cared for environment and plenty of thriving, diverse outlets which only a smattering of charity shops.)

  25. Sam Snook
    November 14, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Sam Snook 14/11/2013
    Concerns have been raised that the town hall parking rules are undermining local high streets and shopping parades.

    A 2012 survey found almost seven in ten people intentionally avoided
    shopping areas with high parking prices. Two thirds said they would
    return to the high street if parking was more affordable.

    One in five felt there were not enough spaces. Four out of five people
    pay up £150 per month for parking.

    The Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said £635m municipal
    parking profit shows why we need to review and rain in unfair parking
    rules.

    Put councils aren’t listen, and local shops and hard working
    families are suffering as a result. “The Law is Clear” that parking is not
    a cash cow for Town Hall officers.

    My Regards
    Sam

  26. November 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    It seems to me that parking is a sitting duck. No one will defend it because people will continue to park there regardless. numbers may be reduced but unless the charged parking bays are empty any party who comes into power for EBC will keep the charges. They are lying if they say they will make sunday FOC. Far too much money being made on a sunday for them to give up a cash cow. I agree with earlier comments that the range of shops/businesses have fallen. Unless you fancy eating or browsing charity shops or drinking coffee then options become limited each year.
    No real decent clothes shops for children, no proper electrical/tv/computer outlet especially since comet went to the wall.
    A major rethink is needed to entice a wider scope of businesses into the area. The centre needs to become a place where people WANT to come. Right now, there’s less and less wanting and its only going to get worse. Parking issues need to be resolved to turn the heads of businesses to get involved in eastleigh and turn it around. my 2p

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