Report of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Members considered the content of the proposed On-Street Car Parking Strategy, including the forward programme of on-street pay and display spaces, prior to it being issued for consultation and formally adopted.
They were informed that parking spaces were needed to help local economies grow, but providing too much parking could encourage car use and have an adverse effect on the quality of life for people living in town centres, the conditions for pedestrians, impact on traffic flow, and cause accessibility issues. The Committee had previously recognised the importance of effective management of on-street parking through civil parking enforcement and had requested that they be provided with the opportunity to consider the proposed strategy. It was underpinned by the following core principles:
· A consistent approach to on and off-street parking;
· A well-structured regime for the management (and charging) of on-street parking;
· Parking facilities, arrangements and charging structures that reflected the needs of the individual towns (including free parking); and
· A charging structure that reflected the varying demands of all the users of the service.
Members questioned how businesses would be involved in the strategy. They were informed that initially the consultation process would involve District and Borough Councils, the Staffordshire Association of Town and Parish Councils, and businesses at a strategic level but would then be aimed at a local level at the implementation stage. Members suggested that Chambers of Trade and Railway Stations should be added to the list of proposed consultees. They stressed the importance of the consultation being all-encompassing and involving local communities, local residents and local businesses and welcomed the reference to supporting town centres. It was also suggested that there should be liaison with other operators of car parks in order to provide a co-ordinated approach to manage the resource overall. The Cabinet Member confirmed that this consultation would take place and that it was crucial to adopt the right approach.
Members expressed concerns over parking on footpaths and verges and were assured that these issues would be included within the strategy. In relation to enforcement, a member commented that it would be helpful to give the Police and PCSOs the power to move vehicles which were causing an obstruction. They queried whether additional staff would need to be employed to manage additional car parking spaces. Officers responded that Pay and Display parking was easier to enforce and would use the same enforcement resource but in a different way.
It was queried how a balance was struck between encouraging more vehicles into town centres and the impact that this would have on air quality and it was suggested that it would be helpful to include an environmental group in the consultation exercise. Officers responded that the increase in parking spaces involved fairly small numbers which would create a marginal disadvantage to air quality. In conclusion, a member commented that there was clearly a link between the availability of convenient parking and high streets which were thriving, and the importance of supporting these.
RESOLVED – That the comments and suggestions of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee contribute to the consultation on the On-Street Car Parking Strategy and forward programme on on-street pay and display spaces.