NEW Forest District Council’s business chief has joined the campaign to stop on-street parking charges being imposed on Lymington High Street.
A letter has been sent to Hampshire County Council’s leader, Cllr Keith Mans, urging him to think again by NFDC’s cabinet member for economic development, Cllr Michael Harris.
The message was revealed as Cllr Harris responded to questions about the proposals from Lymington members at a meeting of NFDC at Appletree Court HQ in Lyndhurst.
As reported in the A&T, HCC will take back responsibility for traffic management from NFDC in April. Cllr Mans has said on-street parking enforcement must pay its way and free up money for road maintenance as it seeks to make £80m of spending cuts by 2021.
But traders fear shoppers will be deterred by reducing the current one-hour free parking to 30 minutes, with two hours chargeable. New Milton, Barton and Ringwood are next on the list.
The issue was raised by Buckland Cllr Anne Corbridge, who is also town mayor, and Pennington Cllr Jack Davies.
Cllr Harris replied: “I share your concern about the proposed on-street parking charges in Lymington, particularly from one hour to 30 minutes’ free parking.
“This will be most unhelpful to the high street retailers in Lymington, particularly when there are initiatives to support the high street.”
He noted that HCC needed to balance its budget but added: “I have therefore written to the leader of Hampshire County Council asking that the first one hour of free parking be reinstated.”
Pressed by Pennington Lib Dem Cllr Jack Davies for “actions not words”, Cllr Harris said: “I have asked them to put it back to how it is now. I do not know what other actions I can take.”
Cllr Corbridge said: “The town of Lymington and Pennington is extremely upset about the initiative and the total lack of consultation. It’s one of the most thriving high streets in the district and it’s sad that it could diminish.
“We are very concerned about the lack of benchmarking of the current situation there, in order that it can be assessed in the future.”
As reported in the A&T, the town council has invited HCC’s highways chief, Cllr Rob Humby, to attend a public meeting on 16th March to answer residents’ questions.
NFDC will retain responsibility for its public car parks.
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