Parking Policy Means We Will End Up Breaking The Law

PUBLISHED: 16:05 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:38 04 May 2010

I WAS one the residents who attended the East Cambs District Council Environment & Transport Committee meeting at the council offices last Tuesday that discussed residents parking. The meeting became highly emotive, born out of the huge frustration and a

I WAS one the residents who attended the East Cambs District Council Environment & Transport Committee meeting at the council offices last Tuesday that discussed residents' parking. The meeting became highly emotive, born out of the huge frustration and anxiety over the situation that we residents, who do not have off-street parking, find ourselves in as a result of the council's revised parking policy. I would like to take this opportunity to focus as objectively as possible on the issues as I see them.

The recent changes to the Barton Road car park have introduced restrictions to parking between 8am and 10am, allowing only 90 minutes parking in that period and no return within two hours. As residents with no off-street parking this means that on days when we do not need to use our cars during the day, we still need to move them. If left in Barton Square car park overnight, the car needs to be moved by 8.30am the following day. For us, Barton Square is therefore the logical place to move it to. However, this has a three-hour maximum parking period, which now appears to be being enforced, and therefore this requires my car to be moved again, back to the Barton Road car park/or other before 12pm.

We fully appreciate and support the need for parking policies the need to encourage the local economy through not making parking prohibitive for local business.

However for those residents with no off-street parking, it has become virtually impossible to park legally during the day on those days when we are not using our cars. We feel very strongly that the council's revised parking policy has placed us in a position where it is almost inevitable that we will end up breaking the law.

Our household alone has had four parking tickets since May 2008 (two in Barton Road car park, two in Barton Square). We refused to pay these and in the case of Barton Road car park, which is enforced by the council, we were summoned to appear at the magistrate's court for non-payment and threatened with £45 late payment fine and court costs of £82 for each of the two offences. We made our case to the courts, who were sympathetic although not in a position to do anything, however they reduced the fine to the original £30 (as we had already pleaded guilty) and ordered the council to pay costs.

On the matter of residents' permits, the council has refused to issue even temporary permits until the demand and subsequent impact on the overall strategy can be assessed. They have linked this to the review of Civil Parking Enforcement, which would see the monitoring of on-street parking move from being the responsibility of the police. The strategy approved in 2006 stated that this would be complete by September 2008 at the latest; however, we understand that this has not been done and may well take another 18 months to implement. Even when completed, it unclear how moving the monitoring from one body to another would assist our parking needs.165 business permits have been issued for use in the long stay free car parks in Ely, most of which are close to capacity.

However the pay-and-display car park at Angel Drove, which has 205 spaces, is, by the council's own admission, only 41% utilised. In other words, this means that every day there are approximately 120 free spaces at Angel Drove, a site that cost around £700,000 to develop. An obvious solution, but one that the council appears not to have considered, would be to limit Business permit holders, of which only 50-70 of those issued are actually utilised on any given day, to using the Angel Drove site.

I can only express my frustration at the situation we find ourselves in and the proceedings themselves did little to address our frustration and anxiety, including: the apparent lack of concern, or possibly the flagrant disregard, shown by certain members of the committee over the situation we find ourselves in.

TIM MIDDLETON

Barton Road,

Ely

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