Shropshire Council begins the final consultation on parking charges this morning. In the town centre, it will cost £1.80 an hour to park from 8am to 8pm. Coronation Avenue and Linney will cost 70p an hour. The 15 minute free pop and shop period will be cut to five minutes. The consultation closes on 30 May.
I will be objecting, making it clear yet again that these charges will damage trade and tourism in the town centre. In making these changes local opinion in Ludlow has been ignored, not for the first time. Shirehall thinks it know what is best for the economy and vitality of Ludlow. It doesn’t.
Should anyone be new to this debate, which has been raging for more than a year, you can read the history in a series of articles on this blog. The formal documents for the consultation are on Shropshire Council’s website. Responses should be sent to email@example.com by 30 May.
Shropshire Council proposes to make changes to on-street parking restrictions in Ludlow.
Red Zone: On-street pay & display charges will be raised to £1.80 an hour. The hours of operation of all pay and display and loading bays will be extended until 8.00pm. All maximum periods of stay, and minimum periods of return, will be removed.
Blue Zone: On-street pay & display charges on Coronation Avenue and Linney will be 70p an hour.
The changes will also allow for payment by phone and virtual permits and tickets.
Shropshire Council also proposes to introduce a concessionary period of five minutes free parking within all pay and display parking bays. Currently it is fifteen minutes. Legislation insists that Civil Enforcement Officers must observe a vehicle for ten minutes before slapping a penalty charge notice on a vehicle. That totals 15 minutes and Shropshire Council has made the argument that this will enough. When I argued at a scrutiny committee that the public would not understand this 5+10 rule, the director of place and enterprise committed to putting up signs stating that the time allowed for free parking is 15 minutes. That director has left the council. I am not holding my breath on the commitment being honoured. Anyway, no one would want to pop in to the butchers or bakers, or for a quick prayer, with the thought that a yellow coated enforcement official will be hovering over their car after just five minutes counting down to 15 minutes, zero seconds.
Civil Enforcement Officers have an important role to play in dealing with problems, such as illegal parking in disabled bays. But an over zealous regime can create a chilling environment for traders and visitors.
As part of the consultation, the council has published a justification for taking more money from extended parking charges:
“These changes are intended to improve overall parking service provision, promote the efficient use and management of car parks and be a contributing factor in reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, minimising congestion and improve vibrancy in market towns.”
This a statutory consultation to modify a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) made under Parts I, II and IV of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The legislation states that 21 days minimum must be given for consultation and an order cannot be made or amended before the expiration of the consultation.