Sunday, 11 December 2011

To PARK or not to PARK.

Cllr Worrow has supposedly “seen the light” on the “trivial matter” of free parking versus parking charges and obviously the Conservative councillors are crying “foul”. But when are these councillors going to wake up and see the true situation.  To describe the parking situation in Thanet as an absolute mess, is being kind to it.

We have free parking in Westwood Cross to encourage out of town shopping and parking charges in the Old Town Centres to finally kill them off. Even the Christmas free parking is in obscure car parks not near the town centres.  Minster has free parking and the shops are thriving, other villages have none and the shops have all shut. YES there is a connection between available free parking and shop viability. I live within walking distance of Ramsgate town centre, but on occasions when I have to take a car into town, lack of easy parking just puts me off, so people who have to drive in regularly probably go elsewhere.

The council do not even learn from their mistakes, having cocked–up Thanet shopping by building Westwood Cross, there are still councillors supporting the future cock-up to be, known as Parkway station. Billed as a station for the Kent International Airport it is on the wrong side of the runway and will include, yes you guessed it, a huge car park.

Any moron can work out that an air passenger arriving at or departing from KIA by train will have no car, so who will use this car park. Not the existing commuters because most of them have their commuting arrangements already worked out. There will be an influx of new commuters wanting executive houses built around the station or on the Eurokent site. Ramsgate station will then be downgraded, when all it needs is a good parking scheme to make it more viable.

Back to Ramsgate town centre and Leopold Street car park, this has a 30% usage level with proposals to close two upper floors, when all it needs is good security and appropriate management to make it popular. This could take the pressure off Pier Yard and allow a much more pleasant pedestrian space in front of Clock House (if ever it opens again)

The way parking is handled in an urban environment can have a profound effect on the appearance and prosperity of a town. In some French towns on-street parking is alternating, so on one side of the road, parking is restricted from the first to the fifteenth of the month (see above sign), then the other side is restricted for the remainder of the month . This encourages a free flow of traffic and reduces the appearance of “cars everywhere”.

This post has been written from memory of various encounters with poor parking management throughout Thanet, and I am sure there are many more examples of which I am not aware. So maybe some Thanet councillors will take good parking provision more seriously now they have lost their lucrative allowances over such a “trivial matter”.

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