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Call-in puts temporary brakes on controversial Lymington High Street parking charges implemented by Hampshire County Council

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THE controversial plan to introduce Lymington High Street parking charges has hit the brakes – for now.

Hampshire County Council’s economy transport and environment select committee has called in the decision to charge £1 for an hour’s parking or £2 for two hours.

The committee is now due to meet next on Thursday, when it will formally request that cabinet member for highways operations, Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, changes his mind.

Charges are planned for Lymington's High Street
Charges are planned for Lymington's High Street

Cllr Barry Dunning is the Conservative member for Lymington & Boldre and is on the economy, transport and environment select committee.

He told the A&T: "I have yet to be convinced by the argument for parking charges in the high street. I just do not understand how parking restrictions are going to help our wonderful high street.

"Traders do not want it, the chamber of commerce does not want it, neither does the Lymington Society nor the town council."

He warned people who currently pop into town regularly for short visits would be put off by the hassle of having to pay, hitting trade for shopkeepers.

However, it is still up to Cllr Oppenheimer whether he does or not, a report ahead of the meeting confirmed.

"It is open to the select committee to ask the executive member for highways operations to reconsider his decision," the report said.

"It is not, however, possible under the provisions relating to call-in for the ETE select committee to do anything other than ask the executive member for highways operations to reconsider the specific decision he made."

As reported in the A&T, the fees have been attacked by traders, councillors and residents as likely to drive away customers when the town centre is recovering from the pandemic lockdowns.

The decision rests with Cllr Russell Oppenheimer
The decision rests with Cllr Russell Oppenheimer

HCC said the new system would better manage demand and stop people staying beyond their time, which it said was often the case now with the existing one hour of free parking.

The idea had been shelved during the summer of 2020 but was brought back and signed off by Cllr Oppenheimer.

The approved plans mean parking will include a free 20-minute parking period – in addition to the statutory 10-minute grace period – for people to make short shopping trips without having to pay.

Charging applies Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm, with no charges on Sundays or bank holidays. There will continue to be no High Street parking on Saturdays when the market is trading.

The meeting report can be viewed at democracy.hants.gov.uk/documents/s93496/Covering%20Report.pdf

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