January 28, 2008
Chamber of Trade attacks plans for winter parking charges
Chamber of Trade has this week hit out at plans to introduce winter
parking charges along the town's seafront.
District Council's plans for all-year-round parking charges -
which were exclusively reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com earlier
in January - have been criticised by Alex Turco, the Chairman
of the trade group.
a statement issued on Monday (January 28th), he said: "In
January 2004 it was first proposed that the Charging Season for
the Esplanade should be extended to all year round. After deliberation,
Sedgemoor District Council's Executive meeting of 15th September
2004 decided to extend the season to eight months. After complaints,
a Road Traffic Order Objection Panel was convened for 22nd March
2005 where the extension to eight months was overturned and so
the six month charging season was maintained."
Chamber notes that at its Executive Meeting on 16th January 2008,
Sedgemoor District Council once again decided to extend the charging
season, this time to twelve months. Whilst the Chamber understands
SDC's poor financial situation, we do not see that the arguments
accepted by the Road Traffic Order Objection Panel in 2005 have
was noted and continues to be so that neither on 30th September
nor on 1st April each year is there any demand for parking on
the Esplanade. This demonstrates that in the winter months tourists
are not being dissuaded from visiting because Esplanade parking
is full. Therefore, charging outside of the existing six month
season is an over-efficient means of regulating use of the Esplanade
parking in the off peak season. It does not increase turnover
of parking and hence the number of visitors to the Town Centre,
which is a normal reason for imposition of parking charges."
Turco added: "There is, however, demand for parking since
when there is no charge from 1st October until 31st March each
year as supply is usually exhausted. This shows that demand for
parking is highly price sensitive. Therefore, it does not follow
that this decision will lead to increased revenue for SDC."
sensitive demand means that there is no evidence either that SDC's
other car parks will see increased demand and hence increased
revenue. Further, this presents the risk that residential roads
around the Town Centre will see an increased usage for shoppers'
parking. Those residents in roads such as St. Andrews, Kingsway,
Dunstan, Lynton, Eton, Jaycroft and others should not been inconvenienced
through Esplanade winter displacement."
Town Centre needs to be able to compete with the large supermarkets
locally, which routinely offer free parking. This is particularly
the case in the winter months when the Town Centre is routinely
affected by inclement weather. The retail sector is experiencing
a downturn presently owing to the reduction in credit following
the recent financial crisis and so can ill afford to be put at
a competitive disadvantage at this time through extended and increased
parking charges. Further, just the perception that it is difficult
or costly to park in the Town Centre acts as a disincentive to
more consistent approach to securing an economic benefit from
the much talked about and much awaited regeneration proposals
would be to revise parking charges once there has been some substantial
improvement in the built environment of the Town Centre. This
would compliment the transport proposals to improve traffic flow
and signage and to clarify loading and disabled parking,"
said Mr Turco.
the reduction in headcount at SDC as a consequence of the financial
position, will there be sufficient staff to enforce the extension
of the charging season? Again, it would be a more consistent approach
to wait until the decriminalisation of parking proposals have
been enacted. This would enable all of the Town Centre's parking
can be properly enforced by the relevant local authority, which
should help to secure the increased turnover of parking that is
needed within the Town Centre."
it is acknowledged that some of the off peak demand on the Esplanade
is taken up by staff and business owners parking there. If SDC
is serious about increasing its revenue and use of its existing
car parks then firstly more promotion should be given to the low
cost car parking permits offered for regular users."
Turco concluded: "In short, there is no evidence to suggest
that the revenue requirements of SDC will be met by this proposal.
Further, there is no evidence to suggest that this will lead to
an improved economy through increasing the number of shoppers.
A clear, holistic transport plan for the town is needed and until
such time as the regeneration plans are finalised and implemented
and decriminalisation of parking introduced, the proposed changes
to the Esplanade charging season should be deferred."
Chamber of Trade official website
Plans unveiled for Esplanade winter car parking charges