NEW parking charges on Lymington high street have been delayed until after the summer to help traders get back on their feet from the coronavirus crisis.
Work on the controversial scheme has been suspended until September when it will be reviewed, according to an update from Hampshire County Council released by the town council today (Thursday).
As reported in the A&T, there has been widespread opposition to the idea from local councillors, businesses and residents who fear it will cut footfall and clutter up the pavements. New Milton, Barton and Ringwood were set to be next.
Hampshire leader Cllr Keith Mans, from Brockenhurst, told the town council at a meeting in January that the scheme was necessary as the county council was taking back traffic management from New Forest District Council in April and could no longer run operations at a loss.
A statement from the town council welcomed the latest announcement but said it “remains opposed to the original parking meter scheme”.
It added: “Now more than ever, with the detrimental effect Covid-19 has had upon local businesses and shops, it is imperative that we help support the high street and encourage residents and tourists back into the town.
“Any parking system that is created must be of benefit to the high street.”
Cllr Mans had earlier promised a public meeting about the plans, but that has been postponed amid the lockdown.
In an update to the town council which it released to the A&T, HCC said: “At the current time the county council is prioritising economic recovery as we emerge from the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are reviewing our approach to on-street parking as travel demand increases now that more shops and businesses are beginning to reopen. We will clearly need to consider the proposed introduction of on-street parking charges in this context.
“But, given the current challenges, it has been agreed that we will suspend further work on the introduction of new areas of chargeable parking until September, after which time we will review the situation again.“
HCC said it had already taken steps to help people go about key business during the outbreak, such as temporarily suspending parking enforcement action unless unlawful parking was causing a danger or obstruction of the highway.
It said it was now starting to introduce additional walking and cycling measures across the county to support town centre businesses as they reopen with new social distancing measures in place.