Lynn and I were invited to attend the second session. The consultants had issued named and numbered invitations to around 30 people - however it appears that, over the two sessions, only 20 people attended.
As I've mentioned before Lynn and I were asked to nominate stakeholders to attend these meetings. We were told that this was the approach that the ruling Labour group had wanted ... and after all Labour Leader Cllr Sam Dixon had no problem in nominating stakeholders in Chester.
We refused to nominate stakeholders - and made the point that everyone in Frodsham is a stakeholder and everyone in Frodsham should be invited to have their say. I have no idea whether other's sought to 'pack' their meetings with people with known views - however that is not the way Lynn and I work. We have more respect for the people of Frodsham than to do that.
Our stance on this issue has led to CWaC changing its plans which now do include public engagement and consultation - scheduled for the autumn.
The consultants sought to focus our views on the current problems and the likely issues. I intervened on a couple of occasions during their presentations seeking to verify whether we were to view this exercise in the context of promoting Frodsham's wellbeing for the community and its businesses - as this point was not originally made. I was assured that there was no 'hidden agenda' in terms of revenue raising for CWaC - although time alone will tell whether this is true.
We were asked to focus on the town centre - however we pointed out that car parking issues extended beyond these areas.
As could be envisaged we talked about things such as:
- Improving the management and use of the existing spaces;
- Better designation of spaces such as on Main Street;
- Whether some form of short stay limitation should be brought in for Main Street - and how to manage Market day and residents' car parking there;
- What is 'short stay' - 3 hours was the suggestion from the floor - how long ladies hairdressing can take;
- The poor quality of much of our car parking - e.g. Station Car Park 'extension';
- Halton Curve, commuting, and the current and future plans for the Station Car Park;
- The need for short stay car parking on Main Street;
- Protecting residential areas from displaced car parking elsewhere;
- School drop off and pick up issues;
- Local shops - e.g. Overton Stores, Top Shop on Langdale Way, Post Office on St Hilda's Drive;
- Enforcement - the Eddisbury Square case study in how not to do it;
- Land where new car parking could be laid out; and
- Signage ... and perhaps modern matrix signs that could be used not just to give car parking information - but other information such as motorway / congestion related information or events information.
The consultants gave us some interesting information pointing out how little of the car parking in Frodsham was owned or controlled by CWaC - and the challenges this obviously brings about for changing and improving things.
We learnt that constructing a multi-storey car park in the station would be expensive with an indicative costing of around £12k per space provided.
I've been promised a copy of the presentation that was given to us - when I get it I'll publish it for all to see.
The consultants were careful not to tell us what they are currently thinking and what their recommendations may be.... so watch this space!