The Car Parking Debate Kicks Off




We’re raising the right issues and setting the agenda.

Here’s today’s Echo report on car parking in Rayleigh:

THE future of parking in Rayleigh town centre is shaping up as a key issue in the upcoming county council elections.
Chris Black, Lib Dem group leader on Rochford District Council, has called for a rethink to ensure the survival of the town.
Mr Black is standing in Rayleigh North for Essex County Council this year, against Tory incumbent Stephen Castle.
Mr Black said he would like to see a cheap rate parking period of 30 or 40 minutes, rather than the current ?1 for two hours rate.
He wants weekly parking charges finishing at 6pm rather than 7pm, and ticket machines which give change, if the pay-and-display system continues.
Change machines have not been available in the past, but Mr Black said a company had started making them in February.
He said: ?What the public really want to see is a pay-on-exit system at Websters Way car park, so shoppers don?t have to worry about running out of time.
?These changes would all cost some money, but the district council makes a profit of around ?800,000 a year from its car parks.?
Mr Castle said: ?I put forward the idea of pay-on-exit parking ten years ago.
?I still believe it would be the right way for the district council to go.
?Last year, I suggested there should be a cheap parking rate for half an hour.
?I was very disappointed when the district council did not agree with it.
?I am very pleased Chris Black has now caught up with the things I have been arguing for.?

As we’ve pointed out before, the Conservatives have publicly boasted they will bring in ‘pay-on-exit’ but have never done it.

For example , council minute 212/2000, moved by Councillor Peter Webster voted for by Councillors Amner, Mrs Brown, Capon, Cutmore, Grey, Mrs Hungate , Livings , Mockford, Smith, Starke and Mr and Mrs Webster which stated
: ? ?That Council further notes that the Conservative Group will implement pay-on-exit car parking in Webster?s Way car park as soon as possible.?
That was eight years ago.

How much more time do they need to think about it?

A better car parking system would make the town more attractive to visitors, but the other, more important, aspect is getting a better range of shops. The High Street probably can’t compete on price any more, but we can make it a more interesting place to shop than out-of-town stores or the internet.

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  • Chris, more to the point, not just parking, but how much growth do the Tories want for Rayleigh. If we do have to bow to all the housing that is earmarked for us the town centre will have to grow proportionately and so will the parking facility. At the moment we have a decently sized town, with residential housing within a few minutes walk. True we do not make good use of the commercial capacity we have but this would be easily remedied if we had retail outlets willing to take a chance. What we don’t want is the town expanding out too far. The bigger the town centre, the bigger the traffic jams or widen the roads and lose the pleasant style and feel, of the town. Commercial property owners are feeling the pinch just like everyone else, if you have a niche service or goods to sell, you could do worse than try Rayleigh.

  • Good to see some of the points from my recent rant being covered in Chris’ suggestion. One note of caution with the pay on exit shceme is that we have to make sure traffic is properly managed. They tend to rely on barriers, with cars stopping to take a ticket on entry, and this could lead to traffic queues at the entrance to carparks.

  • Mike, if the District Council proposal of 850 more houses along Rawreth Lane goes ahead, I can see that many of those new residents probably won’t come into Rayleigh much, they won’t generally feel part of Rayleigh (and indeed they won’t be, they will be living in Rawreth!)

    ST1 – there certainly could be management issues with pay-on-exit, but the idea keeps comes coming up and the issues can surely be sorted out if the price is worth paying.

  • Chris, I agree with pay-on-exit, it’s the most convenient and fairest way of handling parking payment. I’ve just got this image of Webster’s Way getting even more backed-up (if that’s possible!) as people stop at the barriers to take a ticket. I also wonder how the barriers could be handled on the smaller carparks, such as by the windmill. Perhaps these will have to remain pay-and-display.

    I’m sure issues can be addressed, and I’m pleased it’s on the agenda.

  • If small change is the problem with the current system, why not install ‘Change Given Here Machines’. I guess people would say that they are a target for break in vandals but they are no more risk than the parking meter as it holds the ticket cash.
    This would also reduce banking fees as the money taken from the meter could be transferred straight to the cash machine and therefor would reduce the money taken to the bank. Yet another saving and more revenue for the council.

  • I personally don’t agree that the carparking fees put folk off shopping &/or socialising in Rayleigh – I actually don’t think the parking fees are expensive although I do agree that the machines should give change and the parkingg should be free after the shops close at 17:00 hrs.

    The problem with Rayleigh is that it just doesn’t have any shops, restaurants or bars worth visiting. The only time I go into Rayleigh and use the carparks are to either go to the Drycleaners or the Doctors surgery! The High Street is dying.

    If people are concerned about the charges – park after 13:00 on Saturdays when parking is FREE! Although I’ve lost count of the number of occasions that I’ve seen people paying for parking on Saturday afternoons (when I visit the Drycleaners) perhapes the FREE parking ought to be advertised more clearly?

    Want to visit decent shops, restaurants or bars? Don’t waste your time visiting Rayleigh. Go to London, Chelmsford or Bluewater or Lakeside.

  • I was sorry to see that Mr Castle was so disappointed that his good idea had not been taken up by the local council. What we really need is a local councillor with a bit of clout – a job for Chris Black perhaps.

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