Highbridge parking plan labelled
'naive' in heated council debate
to introduce an hour's free parking and reduced-rate season tickets
at a Highbridge car park sparked a heated debate at a town council
meeting on Monday evening (November 27th).
reported here last week, a group of Lib Dem town councillors
has put forward the plan.
Cllr Andy Brewer, pictured above, said the plans were "a little
naive" and Cllr Roger Keen, a Highbridge district councillor,
said it was "a great shame" that the issue was being politicized.
Murphy, Chairman of Highbridge Chamber of Trade, pictured
below, told Monday's meeting: "However bright an idea one
hour's free parking is, we are concerned that an application for
free parking could mean the users of the other eleven car parks
in the area would demand the same treatment, causing extra work
and deep resentments."
Murphy added that season tickets and parking leases "cannot
simply be rolled out to everyone with all the accompanying admin
costs of registration, issuing of permits, individual payments etc."
already offer all residents living within 200m of the Bank Street
car park full all-year parking at £360 less discounts of 50%.
Sedgemoor believes that while there is a plentiful supply of free
parking, the people will not pay £360 or £180 to park.
There are already spaces at Walrow terrace car park, the railway
station, Coopers car park and at Southwell Crescent, Tyler Way,
Newtown Road and now 21 spaces along Market Street."
my opinion, the problem is not the price of the car park but that
we don't have enough shops and businesses in Highbridge to attract
shoppers to fill it."
told Cllr Harvey: "As Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan, you
included the option for new retail shops and services and using
part of the Bank Street Car park and part of the Town Green. What
we need is a Highbridge town plan to do just that."
Roger Keen, a Highbridge district councillor, pictured below,
also spoke out at the meeting: "It is a great shame that this
topic of a public amenity was projected under a political emblem,
thus immediately removing it from the goodwill of all-party discussion."
Keen said the Brue Drainage Board has a parking lease for its staff
in the Bank Street car park because it is a "precepting body"
and he added: "This information could have been made available
to Cllr Harvey had he chosen to enquire instead of embarrassing
members of his own team."
Cllr Phil Harvey, who is the local Lib Dem leader, pictured
below, is adamant that his proposals would make the car park
more useful to local residents, increase council revenue and help
the town centre.
said: "I am concerned at the low level of use in the Bank Street
car park - there are often just 45 cars a day using it despite it
having a much larger capacity."
initially considered a scheme that would operate like Morrisons
used in Burnham where you'd get a rebate from the shop - you spend
£10 and get a parking rebate. But that would mean reticketing
the machines with new tickets - and one half of the ticket would
go on show in the car and the other would be taken to the shops
to be redeemed. But when I learned there's a minimum print run of
48,000 tickets, I realised that would be four years' supply and
dropped the idea."
we looked at one hour's free parking - I don't accept the statement
from Cllr McGinty, Sedgemoor's council leader, that the council's
current parking policy is right for all car parks." Burnham-On-Sea.com
Bank Street car park is under-used, so why can't we make a season
ticket available to the rail station users? It could be a one-off
transaction with none of the administrative difficulties. It would
improve the use of the car park and the viability of the rail station."
Andy Brewer responded: "I do thank Cllr Harvey for starting
off the debate, but however nice an idea it is and very good in
principal, some of this is a little naive. We need to be careful
that we don't mislead residents. We need a full discussion with
Sedgemoor to see what's possible."
Cllr John Parkes said: "This is a chicken and egg situation.
Highbridge is in dire need of regeneration. To rejuvenate Highbridge,
surely we need parking? Providing parking at reduced or nil costs
would be a big help."
councillors decided to hold talks with Sedgemoor District Council
on the proposals, and reserve any decision until afterwards.
Mike Facey, who is chairman of the Town Council's Policy and
Finance Committee, said that he wanted the council to pursue "joined-up
thinking" and "not to rush into a decision overnight."
Cllr Martin Cox said he would support a six-month trial of
the proposals if Sedgemoor backs the scheme. Burnham-On-Sea.com