The new parking regime has had a lot of “teething troubles”. Adjustments to car parking have already been made in Shrewsbury. Now more changes are about to go out to consultation. The changes were set out in a paper approved by cabinet last Wednesday. For Ludlow, the main proposed changes are:
- Two on-street parking residents permits for each property
- A change in boundaries between the Red Zone and Blue Zone to move College Street residents into the Red Zone
- One digital on-street permit for each holiday let property
- A different way of capping the number of season and resident permit in Galdeford car park
These changes are welcome. But they are not likely to implemented until next spring. Other essential changes such as the high cost of on-street parking in the Red Zone will not be discussed until a promised review of the car parking regime in November.
Many residents have petitioned me asking for more than one on-street permit for each residential property in the Red Zone – the core of the town centre. I agree there must be flexibility and support Shropshire Council’s plans to introduce up to two permits for each residence. But first the council must conduct a survey of residents. Only if 51% or more respondents agree can the change be approved.
Residents on College Street and College Court are currently located in the Blue Zone. They want to be transferred to the Red Zone. The residents, who are often elderly, currently have to park on the Linney and carry their shopping up the steep slope of Upper Linney. Moving the residents into the Red Zone will help these residents and I fully support the change.
Holiday let owners in Ludlow have campaigned for on-street parking permits for their guests. Shropshire Council has now agreed to this, subject to consultation. One on-street permit will be allowed for each holiday let property at the same £100 fee paid by residents. Holiday let permits will not include the 200-hour visitor parking entitlement allocated with a resident’s permit.
Currently, the council places a limit on the number of residents permits issued for the Galdeford car park. It uses a separate limit for daytime season tickets. The council proposes to pool these into a single quota to increase flexibility.
Those parking on-street without a permit will be able to pay by phone in the future. Currently this option is only available in car parks.
Digital permits are currently subject to a 10 pence surcharge. This outdated charge for paying cashless will be removed.
The cabinet also agreed to other changes that affect parking in Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth.
The cabinet paper says the new parking regime has “improved ease of enforcement, improved customer satisfaction and more streamlined service with a large increase in chip and pin, contactless payments and digital ticketing.” This is mostly a meaningless statement.
Taking the council’s points in turn. Enforcement of breeches of parking regulations will of course be easier. That goes without saying as it was one of the reasons for introducing the new parking regime. The council has provided no evidence for its claim of improved customer satisfaction. Indeed, the feedback I have received suggests many people are struggling with the MiPermit system. However, no one should expect MiPermit to be abandoned or scratch cards for guest and contractor parking to be reintroduced. In this digital age, which many Ludlow people struggle with, almost everything must be done online. Yet it is much less convenient to have to use a mobile phone or computer to change log in each visitor’s or guest’s registration number than it was to hand them a scratchcard. Which brings us to the “large increase in chip and pin, contactless payments and digital ticketing.” As these were not available in car parks before late last year when the parking regime was introduced, this increase is hardly a surprise.
Consultation on the changes agreed in principle will take at least three months and it will take around the same time to implement the required traffic regulation orders. That means that we cannot expect any changes to be implemented before next spring at the earliest. One reason for the lengthy delay to implementation is because Shropshire Council is “experiencing difficulties in recruiting additional traffic engineers”. The council’s highways budget has been cut by £10 million in the last two years. Reorganisation of the highways team to cope with the cuts has meant that the council’s parking specialists have “been reassigned to general traffic management duties”.