A RETROSPECTIVE planning application for a number plate recognition camera at a notorious parking area has attracted 124 objections – and just one comment in favour.
Britannia Parking has applied for permission to keep a 3.5-metre pole-mounted camera at the Old Milton Green parade in New Milton. It was installed two years ago to monitor parking at the shopping precinct where there is a 20-minute parking limit.
Since then, dozens of users of the businesses there – which includes a Greggs, an Indian restaurant, chemist, bakers and laundry – have been issued with penalty notices for overstaying. Some have seen their demands rocket when they have refused to pay and a number have successfully challenged them when they took their cases to the independent parking adjudicator or the small claims court.
Some of the comments opposing the application to New Forest District Council are from those who have fallen foul of the parking restriction, and from owners of the shops at the site who say it is affecting business.
One said: “Went to use the laundromat and got a parking ticket. The wash cycle took 27 min, so makes using the facilities unfeasible if a ticket is issued after 20min.”
Another said: “My elderly parents aged 86 and 89 have been caught out in this carpark while visiting Greggs. They did not see the sign as they turned right into the carpark from the Lymington Road as it is angled to the left. You can no longer park there if you are visiting the Indian restaurant or eating in at Greggs.”
Another who was fined after visiting the area said: “I have become a victim of this enforcement with a fine, as have a few of my close friends. Stopping for a lunch break at the Greggs doesn’t give us time to actually have lunch. Local businesses on this section have suffered due to this and it will only increase as time goes on. It’s wrong.”
An employee of one of the businesses at the site claimed: “I work in one of the shops along Old Milton Green parade. Our company have lost a lot of customers because of this car parking company.
“I feel sorry for the people who receive letters from this company and they actually pay the fine. Many a time we who work in the shop have told people to ignore the fine.”
Residents claimed they were being driven away from using the shops at the parade. One said: “20 minutes is not enough time to shop at One Stop or eat in Greggs or the Indian restaurant. I avoid using this car park now for fear of getting a fine by accidently going over the ridiculous time limit, so unless there is a space outside one stop, I will keep driving and go elsewhere. You certainly can’t wash your clothes at the launderette in that time, it’s just ridiculous.”
Other residents say they fear the 20-minute limit will cause the shops to shut.
One said: “To allow this permission will slowly but surely drive local residents away from these few local shops, and the area will suffer and degenerate into a derelict area which will eventually become a prime target for vandals.”
Another posted: “Small businesses are generally struggling currently and with this twenty-minute time limit being put on customers adds an unnecessary stress and in turn the car park and shops there are avoided by some.”
The only comment in favour of the application is from Barry Hopwood who owns the laundrette at the green.
He wrote: “As an owner one of the shops I am in full support of the signs and the parking restrictions in general. Our takings are up due to the extra flow of traffic through the car park. I have spoken with Greggs area managers and they have informed me that their takings are up every week. If the car park didn’t have a time limit, cars will be parked there all day from the church, the pub, the college opposite, the care home behind the chicken restaurant round the corner. The one-stop the car park is not big enough to accommodate all these shops, it is for the use of the parade only.
“I have in the past had to pay to have a dumped car removed. We have also had several small accidents in the car park before the signs, due to people trying to manoeuvre around long-term parked large trucks and people coming in and out of the same entrance which was extremely dangerous. So I am in full support of the signage.”