Thursday, 23 January 2014

Car Parking in Frodsham

Cllr Lynn Riley writes:

'There is nothing guaranteed to get the juices flowing in any town like the very mention of car parking. So its perhaps not surprising that the introduction of a new sign in Eddisbury Square has got Frodsham talking.

It’s a subject that pretty much everyone will have an opinion about, so this is probably our opportunity to have a conversation that everyone can join in with.

Every time this issue has ever come up in the past there has been huge controversy that has resulted in no changes to the status quo. Our town still enjoys free car parking and all the benefits that brings. But there is also a downside to this that is starting to have a real impact for us all. Yesterday Andrew and I started our day at 8am in Costa and by that time, 65 cars were already parked by the station, a good hour before many of the local businesses opened. The medical centre likewise had 108 cars parked by 9.30am.

When Solomon said there was a time and a place for everything he had not tried parking his car in Frodsham!

So perhaps now is time that we all grasp the nettle, recognise that we have a problem and come together as a community to build a solution that works for us all. There will be a whole variety of different issues that will arise and it will be good for us all to get a shared understanding of people’s needs and the options out there that we can consider.

There is a whole range of options that towns and cities up and down the UK are using to address their parking issues. Cheshire West and Chester has policies for residents parking schemes already in place and runs car parks throughout the borough some charged for and some free. There are some really clever technology options out there too.

But the starting point in all of this has to be that if this is our local problem in Frodsham, then the best place and the best people to find the solution will be here with us.

Our focus as your locally elected councillors is to bring as much resource into Frodsham as possible and to bring control and decision making with it. Cheshire West and Chester is working with community partners across the patch to transfer assets into local hands and is transferring funding like the new homes bonus to help support local plans. So why not car parks?

Parking is always going to be controversial. I’ve just 'googled' it and got 27.5million results so there’s going to be no shortage of opinion.

Let’s be clear before we start that there are NO plans, NO schemes, NO conspiracy and NO agenda, whatever others might have you believe. But we do have parking problems in town as we all know and this is a conversation that’s got to start somewhere.'

Cllr Andrew Dawson writes:

'I'll go further than Lynn.  My starting point is that I am opposed to car parking charges for Frodsham - if they are a resort at all, they are the very last resort and not something on my agenda at all at the moment.  I shudder at the costs of the equipment, the running and the enforcement costs ever before one thinks of the aggravation of finding the change etc!  If these are things we can avoid, then we should.  Also I don't like the idea of introducing car parking charges as inevitably there will be pressure to divert cars to be parked on nearby residential roads.  If we can find ways of sharing out our limited car parking resources better, then we should do it first.  

I very much agree with Lynn in that we should work within Frodsham to find the solutions through a sensible serious debate.  

So as an example - how about we encourage all those involved in businesses on Main Street to park their cars by the Will to Work at the Lesiure Centre?  Their cars would be no more than a 2 minute walk from their businesses and we would free up spaces on Main Street for short stay shoppers and visitors. I'm sure there are lots of similar things we could do without incurring significant costs to share our limited spaces better.

Those who own private land that is used for car parking - such as at Eddisbury Square and behind the Bear's Paw are free to devise whatever reasonable schemes they want to - although I would want to involve them in the dialogue.  If they get their arrangements right they will help our car parking problems - if they get it wrong they will exacerbate them.

I also think we have to put pressure on developers - especially those with schemes near the centre of town to make sure they are contributing to the car parking solution and not planning to make matters worse.  In fact a responsible developer with a scheme in and around the town centre should come to all of us explaining how they are contributing to the solution as one of the first things they should do.

Lynn and I are joining with Frodsham Town Council in preparing a consultation with everyone in Frodsham.  Everyone will have an opportunity to have their say on car parking and other things.  We are starting with a blank sheet of paper - inviting everyone to contribute.  I'll make sure all the responses are published in summary form so everyone can see what Frodsham as a whole has had to say on car parking and other issues.'