Hampshire County Council turns down pleas to reconsider parking charges for Lymington High Street
PLEAS for the county council to reconsider enforcing parking charges for Lymington High Street have been voted down.
As reported in the A&T, politicians called in plans for Hampshire County Council to spend £50,000 on parking meters for Lymington High Street, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
If their proposal had gone through, the decision would have been sent back to the executive member for highways operations, Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, for reconsideration.
It comes after the county council reclaimed control of the town's on-street parking.
In Winchester yesterday (Thursday) politicians and business owners voiced concerns that the end of free parking could hinder the high street’s post-Covid recovery.
Neil Welker, managing director of Elliotts in the High Street, described the move as "hugely destructive".
Addressing the economy, transport and environment select committee, he said: "The decision will be detrimental to the retailers and their employees, at a time when high streets need more help than ever.
"Car parking charges are one of the biggest issues facing high streets today, especially when it comes to small and medium-sized independent retailers.
"This would go against the views of local councillors, businesses and residents and I would urge you to take this last opportunity to listen to those who know what’s best for Lymington."
Currently, shoppers can park in Lymington High Street for up to an hour.
But under the county council’s proposals, the first 20 minutes will be free, but longer stays will see a charge.
New Forest residents also won’t be able to use their parking clocks for on-street parking, to the frustration of locals.
Conservative representative for Lymington and Boldre, Cllr Barry Dunning, said: "We should be doing everything in our power to ensure the high street remains viable.
"There is nothing wrong in principle with on-street parking. The issue here is that charges will be damaging to the high street shops and will drive customers away.
"I have heard nothing to change my mind on this."
Hampshire County Council officers maintain that the move is "necessary" to put money into the highways network.
Marc Samways, traffic management and road safety manager, claimed the difference in footfall would also be "negligible".
He said: "I don’t think the proposals for the high street will make a huge difference.
"The demand for these spaces is very high and we’ve introduced similar schemes in Fareham and Lee-on-the-Solent.
"All signs from there so far indicate that parking behaviour has not particularly changed."
The motion was eventually voted down by the select committee by seven votes to five.