Church Stretton Town Council Response to Shropshire Council Consultation on Proposed Changes to the new Parking Strategy
Shropshire Council introduced a new Parking Strategy in January 2019, which has been substantially implemented. An initial consultation was undertaken in May and in September, the Cabinet gave authority to the Executive Director of Place, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, to implement some amendments. The Council is now undertaking a Consultation on seven specific elements of the Strategy. These relate mostly to loading bays, resident parking permit schemes, season ticket schemes and holiday let annual tickets.
In large part, none of these proposed changes will not apply in Church Stretton. Victoria House has an annual permit but will be unaffected by the proposed changes.
2. Church Stretton Issues:
However, the consultation wrongly states that in all car parks, there is the facility to pay by cash, card or phone. In an unannounced trial in January, the Council instituted a payment only by phone scheme at Crossways Car Park, by bagging up the cash machine. This was done against the advice of the Town Council, which argued, on the basis of experience, for a low-cost season ticket only scheme to increase usage. When asked for feedback in May, the Town Council requested a cessation of the trial, on the compelling grounds that phone reception at that location is variable and many local residents are uncomfortable with non-cash means of payment. The cash machine remains bagged and, as predicted, the car park is only occasionally used by a coach.
The central main car parks are well used but recurrent faults with the cash machine in the largest car park is a continuing source of irritation. The same applies to the long term delay in re-designing and re-surfacing these central car parks, which have been endlessly patched up and on which all parking bays, including disabled parking bays, have long been obliterated.
3. Other Issues:
The Council would also welcome clarification on the “Pop and Shop” provision. As reported in the local press, Ludlow Council is concerned about the possible reduction in the length of free parking time allowed. The current understanding is a free parking time of five minutes and a legal latitude of a further ten minutes, before sanctions can be applied. Any reduction of this 15-minute latitude would render the concession meaningless.
As previously argued, the Town Council would welcome some say in the day a week free parking generously offered by Shropshire Council to benefit local traders. The insistence on free parking on a Sunday is of little benefit to the local independent traders in this town, the vast majority of whom are closed on a Sunday. On that day, the car park is filled with visitors coming to walk and cycle, who would in no way be deterred by the reasonable car park charges.
The other more pressing parking issue is the increasing frequency of overflow parking in residential streets when Carding Mill Valley car parks are full. Three months ago, the interim Head of Transport offered to set up a meeting to address this issue but that meeting has still to be convened.