Happy New Year everyone.
The Surrey Advertiser ran an article in its edition last Friday covering the proposal by Surrey CC to impose parking restrictions on streets in the Borough. For Cobham, this would mean Monday to Saturday and the proposed charge is £1 for 1 hour and 50p for 30 minutes (the figures given in the article do not correlate with figures sent to me).
There is no doubt that there is a problem with car parking in Cobham. The Waitrose car park, which is free, is almost always full or close to full. Waitrose do not regulate their car park at all, so far as I can see. The same goes for Sainsburys, but their car park is too far from the town centre to attract town centre shoppers. The Elmbridge car parks on Cedar Road and Hollyhedge Road are busy, and the free car park off the High Street is always full with a queue to get in.
The sides of the High Street are always full Monday to Friday and it is clear that some cars are there all day, probably owned by those who work in the shops. A significant discount is available from Elmbridge BC for a season ticket for its car parks, but clearly some car owners / businesses prefer not to pay. Access into and out of the town centre is slow, especially on Saturdays. This has become worse in recent months, particularly since Carluccio’s opened, attracting more “stayers” into the town centre.
So something needs to be done and I do not criticise Surrey CC for proposing some form of on-street parking control. But the Chamber of Commerce are not happy, I am told, with the current proposal, and I have a great deal of sympathy for their point of view. We need a regime which prevents people from parking all day but which does not deter the short-term shopper. If the short-term shopper cannot park cheaply in the town centre, he or she will go off to Brooklands, or Sainsbury’s, where parking is free.
One option is a short period of free parking. There are parking machines now which require the car owner to enter the registration number of his vehicle, and this would make enforcement work. Alternatively there could be a short period charged at, say, 20p. I fully understand that enforcement has to be paid for by a combination of ticket prices and fines and therefore having a longer period of free parking probably would not work. On the other hand Surrey CC should not regard the streets of Cobham as a cash cow to be milked in order to plug any gaps in its own finances brought about by the recent funding cuts. If they charge too much, shoppers will vote with their wheels,and local businesses will suffer and in the long run this attractive town centre will be killed off.