Helston’s Fairground Car Park is being resurfaced.

A month ago, I reported that the Fairground Car Park would be resurfaced in February due to the stage of the area. I am pleased to say work has started on the resurfacing and will take two days to complete.

As you can see from the pictures this is not just filling in the pot and man holes, but putting down a lot of material to make this a better car park. Speaking to the men on site today, they say this resurfacing will use over 100 tonnes of material.

Thank you to Cornwall Council’s Car Parking Services and Cormac for acting so quickly to my request for something to be done. To help Cormac complete the job, can people avoid parking in this area whilst the work is being carried out.

 

Work is underway at Helston’s Fairground Car Park

Planned increase to car parking charging delayed for further discussion

parking signThe planned increases to charging in Cornwall Council car parks will not go ahead as planned.  In understanding the concern, the Leader has said in a letter to various members that:

“we recognise that the time-frame given to the Parking Service and town representatives between the approval of the budget in November and the deadline for the new Order at the end of January allowed little time for dialogue”. 

The Leader followed on by saying

we have therefore agreed to delay the implementation of the proposed schedule to allow further discussion to take place” (abridged version).

This is good news, and I thank the Leader for stepping in and trying to find a way forward. However, it is not clear how long this period of discussion will be. Myself and Porthleven Town Council wrote and highlighted how harmful the increased could be locally, especially the introduction of the after 4pm charging. In this period of ‘discussion’ I will again raise the issue.

However, what surprised me is car parking charges is such an emotive issue, few took the time to actually officially complain about it. As from the consultation, there were only 17 (me being one of them) individual responses from Cornwall Councillors, 15 from town and parish councils (Porthleven TC included), six from business groups, and 78 from the public. Though, credit to the 47 Councillor who signed a letter to the Leader and CEO expressing their concerns on the proposed charges.

My previous blog on the proposals can be found HERE

Introducing £1 to park after 4pm in Porthleven and Helston is not welcomed

The emotive subject of charging to park in a car park has raised it head again with the release consultation on parking charges for 2017 by Cornwall Council. Charging to park is not a popular subject, especially when charges change and go up. I will start with a positive as last year, car parking charges were frozen.

The proposal which is now out for public consultation is for the car park in Porthleven and the main Helston car parks is for the price of the one and two-hour to rise; with the three to four-hour charge dropping. However, in a shocking move, there is the introduction of a £1 after 4pm charge.

The full changes are contained within the following:

Current Proposed
Kittos Field, Porthleven £0.60

£1.40

£3.30

£4.40

£5.00

——

£1.00

1 Hour

2 Hours

3 Hours

4 Hours

24 Hours

Evening

Winter

£0.70

£1.60

£3.00

£4.00

£5.00

£1.00

£1.00

Trengrouse Way & Trengrouse Extension, Helston £0.60

£1.40

£3.30

——

1 Hour

2 Hours

3 Hours

Evening

£0.70

£1.50

£2.50

£1.00

Castle Green, Helston £2.20 24 Hours £2.20
Cattle Market, Helston £0.60

£1.40

£3.30

£4.40

£5.00

——

1 Hour

2 Hours

3 Hours

4 Hours

24 Hours

Evening

£0.70

£1.50

£2.50

£3.50

£5.00

£1.00

Tyacke Road, Helston £0.60

£1.40

£3.30

£4.40

£5.50

——

1 Hour

2 Hours

3 Hours

4 Hours

24 Hours

Evening

£0.70

£1.50

£2.50

£3.50

£5.50

£1.00

Whilst the over all increases in the hourly charges and the reduction in others seems at face value a little bit of give and take; which could be interpreted as encouraging people to stay longer in an area. However when you look deeper into the income, it is clear the income from the is one and two-hour charges is the main source of income. For example:

  • Kitto’s the one and two-hour charge equates to nearly 60% of the ticket sales, with the three-hour charge having 13.3% and both the four and five-hour charge totalling 3.1% of the sales.
  • Trengrouse is 95.6% of the ticket sales are from the one and two-hour charge;
  • Cattle market is 95.5%;
  • Tyack is 92.9%.

Therefore, I believe this is more about generating more income, but sold as something different.

Putting the hourly tariffs aside, my real concern and anger is the inclusion of a £1 charge after 4pm. This has been done without and warning or consultation with local members. There are no grounds for this except for getting more money. Introducing this charge will have negative results; more so than adding 10p to a tariff.

There are a few reasons why this is not good for either Porthleven or Helston. The first is residents who parked in the car parks out of hours because the on-street parking is non-existent or limited and therefore parking in the car park helps reduce congestion. In fact residents have been encouraged to park in car parks out of hours.  If this charge is introduced, then they will just park on the streets. A second is it will harm the local economy who gain from having free parking.

At the December meeting of Porthleven Town Council, Councillors raised various points of objection on the proposals. I made* various points like I have in this blog post. From these points, Councillors voted unanimously to object to the changes, especially the introduction of the £1 after 4pm charge.

I really do believe there needs to be a re-think on these proposals. I hope other Council’s will look at the proposals and take appropriate action. I understand parking charges are a form of income for the Council to provide services, but there is a balance of what is a reasonable charge to park, and what is a cash-cow.

The consultation closes on 16 December 2016

When you visit the website HERE, you will also be able to view the following consultation documents (or click on the links below):

I will, as will the Town Council, make a stong representation against these proposals.

*As a Town Councillor

Parking Policy for Towns in Cornwall is flawed.

Today Cabinet had a mammoth agenda of over 1200 pages. In this agenda, there were many good items, but one item, the Town Parking Review I really struggled with as I felt it was flawed and financially driven. The two-parts of this review I will blog about are residents’ parking and on-street charging.

The theory behind residents’ parking is one I support. I get requests for this to happen in Porthleven. The request comes about because people feel they cannot park near – or in front – of their house. I live in an area where people park because they work in Porthleven, or are visiting. And therefore, I do understand the concern and issues about parking. However, for me I accept people will park where I live because people are either earning money in their job, spending money in Porthleven, or visiting someone in the street.

The Town Parking proposals contained within the report are proposed for an initial seven towns; Bude, Falmouth, Penryn, Newquay, Penzance, Newlyn, St. Ives, Truro and Wadebridge. If the proposals are implemented, a charge of £80 per for the first car and £120 for the second car would be levied. Currently, the charge per year is £25 for the first and £35 for the second car.

Many households have two or more cars due to work commitments and/or having children who still live at home and are of the age to drive. Therefore, the potential levy could be £200 per year (£16 per month) to park near your house. It is very important to highlight there will be no third or more permits issued. A quirk of the system is you are also not guaranteed a space.

My issue with this high charge is it maybe unaffordable for those on lower incomes. £16 per month may not seem much to those on a higher salary, but it is a lot for those who are not. As this proposal would be a whole town approach, the worry is where do you park if the fee is unaffordable and/or you have more than two of cars? You will have difficulty to find a space in a whole residents’ parking zone. Or if no zone, this area will be a magnet for anyone without a permit. This will just push the problem to another area.

A worrying factor is when the public was consulted (in the seven towns) only 31% supported the £80 charge. This is hardly a ringing endorsement of support. It also became apparent today that those existing residents’ parking schemes will see their charged increased to the £80 – this was confirmed today, but was not mentioned in the report. Furthermore, any surplus from the sale of the second permit, will be used for general spend (page 85 of the report). We are told the reason for the high charge is this covers the cost of implementation, but those costs are covered after three-years. There will be an on-going costs of enforcement.

I asked the Portfolio Holder if there was a threshold set support for the proposal to go forward. There was no clear response to this question. I raised another point on will there is a cap on the £80; no assurances were given. A further question was about the second permit is a revenue generator, what is to stop the first permit fee increasing year on year? Nothing…

parking-meterThe second part of the Parking Review is the likelihood of on-street charging to park being introduced. To put it in more simple terms; parking meters on our high streets. Charging to park on the high-street is something I fundamentally disagree with. It is nothing more than a further taxation on the public and is purely financially driven. The proposal set out in the report estimates a surplus of £330k will be raised per year through the utilisation of the 1,029 existing limited waiting bays and 220 newly creative on-street parking bays in the seven towns.

If this goes ahead, I believe it will harm the already under-threat high-street and will just drive people to out-of-town supermarkets or to on-line shopping – which in the last few years has seen a massive rise in use. If it starts in the seven towns, you can bet as the sun rises and sets each day, this will be rolled out to other towns. This will be a disaster to local town and village economies.

Of course the caveat to all I have said is all the details will be subject to further public consultation. It makes me a little suspicious that there will be any real changes to what was proposed today; as to date, over £250k has been spent on the proposals, with a total cost of implementation totalling over £720k.

I voted against this agenda item – as did Jim McKenna. The reason is these proposals are flawed and will result in causing more harm than solving the problems.

You can read the whole report HERE

 

Congestion on the Harbour Head Road.

Over the last few weeks, the Harbour Head Road – an adopted highway – has been getting congested. The most congested day seems to be Thursday when Shearings Coaches park in areas they should not. This brings chaos to the area. I have contacted enforcement to deal with this, and will be writing to the management of the company to highlight the congestion being caused by their coaches.

Another issue has arisen is those with and without Blue Badge permits have started park all along this road. Holders of Blue Badges are allowed to park on double yellow up to three hours as long as they do not cause obstructions. But now other cars are now parking along this stretch of road which adds to the congestions and as a consequences of this people cannot pass those parked cars, this in turn backs-up to Fore Street causing even more congestion -much to the annoyance and anger of those trying to navigate this street.

From this I have been speaking to highways and enforcement to address those issues. Firstly, I have requested more enforcement. Secondly I have been given permission by highways to place the ‘no-waiting’ cones along this stretch of the highway on both sides of the road, apart from the bus stop to see if this limits the parking along this stretch of road over the August period. I plan to place these cones this week.

We have two large car parks in Porthleven. Sadly though, people seem to think they can park anywhere they like no matter the problems it causes.

Cones now in place

Cones now in place

Cornwall Council car parks set to be free on Saturday 5th December

Cornwall Council is gettings into the festive mood with making its 118 pay and display car parks free on Saturday 5th December. The aim is to encourage residents to shop locally and to boost trade in Cornish towns.

Credit to Cornwall Council for this incentive.

18 out of 25 parking tickets issued in Helston during a funeral are cancelled

parkingticketIn a previous blog, I wrote about the PR disaster Cornwall Council faced on the issuing of parking tickets in Helston when a funeral was well attended. I am pleased to say in a spot of good news, eighteen of the twenty-five parking tickets issued have been cancelled.

Out of the remaining seven tickets, two were paid without an appeal, and five have not been cancelled because they were parked in a dangerous and obstructive manner. However, those five people can still appeal to the independent traffic adjudicator.

I must say this is good news for those who have had their tickets cancelled, and thanks should go to the appeal’s team who looked at the evidence and acted accordingly. It would have been great if all were cancelled, but this is still good news.

Portfolio Holder for Transport upholds decision on parking tickets issued for Helston funeral

Last week at least 25 cars were issued parking tickets for parking on grass verges. The reason so many parked on the verges was because the car park was full due to high number of people attended a funeral of a well-known resident.

As one of the local Cornwall Councillors for Helston, I was contacted by residents from both Porthleven and Helston upset and angry at being issued a ticket.  By parking on the verges and out-of-the-way, the owners thought they would be ok. However, that proved to be far from the case.

After all, most people understand you cannot park on single or double yellow lines, but how many actually know the Traffic Regulation Order – makes yellow lines legal – includes the verges and pathways that run along side of the road? I did not, and I bet everyone else who parked on this date didn’t either.

Since being contacted, I have been trying to get the Council (as have other Councillors both near and far) to take a more understanding view on the situation; take into consideration why people parked on the verges; and as an act of good faith, cancel the tickets. This would have gone a long way in turning this public relations disaster into something more positive.

Sadly, this has not happened, as the Portfolio Holder for Transport, Cllr Bert Biscoe – which parking enforcement sits in – has released the following statement on this issue.

Dear Colleague

I have received a number of representations regarding the issue of Penalty Charge Notices at Helston last week. A number of vehicles were parked in contravention of clearly visible and legally enforceable yellow lines, on the footway, and on the verge. A Council Civil Parking Enforcement Officer witnessed the parking and adjudged that the vehicles on the footway posed a risk to pedestrians, requiring them to pass by stepping into the road. The ‘No Parking at any Time’ Traffic Regulation Order applies as much to the verge as it does to the footway and the verge. The vehicles on the verge would have affected the sightlines of approaching vehicles and therefore, in the estimation of the Civil Parking Enforcement Officer, posed a safety risk to road users.

Having been made aware that a funeral was taking place and as so many vehicles were involved the Enforcement Officer decided to report to his Manager before acting. He reported the nature of the infringements and his assessment of the risks and provided photographs (see attached). His manager agreed that Penalty Charge Notices should be issued. Such notices can, as you know, be appealed by the recipients. The duty of the Enforcement Team is to protect the public by enforcing the regulation through issuance of a penalty notice.

The Parking Manager judged, from the situation report and risks reported to him, that it was the correct course to issue notices and he instructed the Enforcement Officer to proceed. He did so in the knowledge that no enquiries had been received by the Council in advance of the funeral in the nearby chapel. If an enquiry had been received in advance then the Parking Manager would have advised about car parks in the vicinity which would have been able to accommodate the expected vehicles.

I acknowledge that it is very often difficult to estimate in advance the attendance at a funeral, but the roadside in the immediate vicinity of the chapel is subject to a Regulation Order, and, when infringements occur, perpetrators are consistently issued with notices – it is not a safe location to leave unattended vehicles, which put other road users, including pedestrians, at risk. Funerals are organised events and both the Parking Section and the Highways Authority are available to provide appropriate advice in advance to assist organisers to run things safely and carefully.

There has been a consequent expression of concern by various people, including many members, that the action sanctioned by the Parking Manager was disproportionate and unwise. Some have asked for the refund or cancellation of fines due to the exceptional circumstances.

I fully support the decision made by the Parking Manager and I fully acknowledge that the Civil Parking Enforcement Officer gave a factual report and provided his manager with a reasonable assessment of risk. I do not consider that the Penalty Notices should be withdrawn or cancelled, and I would request that you consider the extent to which the authority and reputation of the Civil Enforcement team would be undermined and weakened if such a course was pursued.

Along with everybody else who has commented upon this incident, I feel great sympathy for the relatives of the person whose funeral was taking place in the chapel whilst the Notices were being issued, who now find that the immediate aftermath of what is an emotionally charged and stressful situation is one of political and rhetorical turmoil rather than a period of mourning, remembrance and comforting. That many who chose to attend and support them at the funeral and to pay respects to the deceased should have also chosen to infringe a regulation made to reduce risk and improve safety on a busy road is not their fault, and begs the question whether it would be more appropriate to quietly accept the penalties and, if they choose to appeal, to follow the process without causing unnecessary distress to grieving relatives and close friends.

I am writing to let you know that I fully support both the Civil Parking Enforcement Officer, his colleagues (many of whom have been subjected to comments for the past few days), and the managers in the judgements made and decisions taken in this case. I will not sanction rescission or refund of penalties. Together will all the staff and Cabinet Members of the Council, I am sorry that the family of the deceased has had the aftermath of the funeral of a much loved and respected family member disrupted by a controversy caused by the correct issue of Penalty Charge Notices.

I am sure that lessons will be learned as a result but I would ask that you support the staff who work for you in the public interest, and the family in mourning, by advising that appeals can be made if perpetrators feel thus inclined, and that their process be allowed to take its course without further undue comment.

With best wishes

Cllr Bert Biscoe

Cabinet Member for Transport

 

I am bitterly disappointed on the way this has ended. I really believed a solution could have been found. However, with this statement, the only way now for the tickets to be cancelled is via the appeals process and if that appeal is not upheld, then the traffic and transport ombudsman.

Not a good day for the Council’s reputation.

Coin-less payment for parking set to become free

A few years ago, Cornwall Council introduced coin-less payment at its car parks. A great idea. However, to use this function, it would cost you 20p. This was the fee for using the service payable to RingGo.

The good news is this fee is now set to go! As a new company has been awarded the contract for supplying coin-less payment in Cornwall Council own car parks. The company which has won the contact for the next four years are called Bemrose Parking who call their system Phone and Pay.

imageIn the age of smart phones, they also have an app. To register click HERE.

I am pleased this 20p fee has now gone, as whilst it was not a lot of money, it still cost more to park. Now with the new system, coin-less, or with coins will cost the same to park. I should point out that there are some optional charges when paying by Phone and Pay, like text reminders, but unless you want the add-on there will be no charge to pay using this facility.

The old system, RingGo and the new one, Phone and Pay will both be available in the car parks for about a month while the two systems are changed over. Though I know which one I will be using from now on!

Good work parking people.

 

Bulwark car park fines cancelled and enforcement stopped

Following on from my Blog on Monday and in a breakthrough on the saga of the Bulwark car park, I am really pleased that the enforcement of the car park at Bulwark has stopped, and all the fines issued to date have been cancelled. I was informed of this by the enforcement company today by email. Credit should go to the enforcement company who have acted quickly and have cancelled all parking tickets. They also have informed me that they have reimbursed those fines that had been paid. Thank you.

This is good news, as the implementation of this car parking regime has not gone down with the majority of residents. It is disappointing Sanctuary Housing failed to understand the impact of turning this car park in to a permit only car park without taking into consideration of how it would have on the surrounding streets and all the residents of the area. The irony of it all, the car park remained rather empty as residents feared getting a ticket.

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