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A Tale of Small Businesses and An Empty Car Park

August 7, 2009 9:18 AM
Parking obstruction

Parking on white hatching, alongside a pedestrian island, is now a regular occurrence

With Hook Road car park never more than half full and businessmen wanting cheaper parking in the town centre, the Lib Dems are brokering a marriage between the two.

They have asked the council, through a formal Motion, to offer small businesses the same preferential rates which are currently available to companies who rent blocks of parking spaces at Hook Road car park. Spurred on by discussions at the Business Forum, the Motion will be debated at a meeting of the Environment Committee on 21st October.

Cllr Julie Morris said "It seems ridiculous that we have a car park which is always half empty, businessmen who want cheap parking, but apparently we are unable to offer them the same deal as the large companies who sign up for blocks of parking bays. Frankly, I think there is a case for reducing parking charges substantially in this car park as what is the point of having it half empty all the time? Hopefully this is a step toward increasing use of the car park and helping local businesses at the same time."

The Lib Dems are concerned that the council has no official parking strategy. Plans to sell permits for the Town Hall car park to local residents were recently given the go-ahead. The council itself still takes up about 40 spaces in the Depot Road car park for its own staff. With more and more property development having little or no parking attached to it, there is potential for local streets to become even more congested with all-day parking. The Local Committee (the joint borough/county highway authority) has residents' parking on the agenda at long last, but Cllr Morris says "if we had a neon sign which referred to the state of parking in our small town it would undoubtedly say FULL AND CHAOTIC".