TRADERS and shoppers breathed a sigh of relief after it was announced plans for parking meters on Lymington High Street have been shelved.
After taking back responsibility for traffic management from the district council earlier this year, Hampshire County Council announced it would reduce the current one-hour free parking to 30 minutes, with two hours chargeable.
The move was rejected by Lymington and Pennington Town Council and NFDC’s cabinet member for economic development, Cllr Michael Harris – and the county council has now confirmed plans are on hold until next year.
Opponents argued that in light of the adverse effect the pandemic was already having on businesses, charges would damage the local economy further.
Town mayor Cllr Anne 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.”
Announcing the decision, a town council spokesperson said: “The impact on the retail and hospitality sector, often the main businesses within town centres, is understood by the county council, and it is recognised that many areas will require some time to recover and re-establish themselves.”
The position is due to be reviewed next summer, and the town council stressed it would continue to liaise with HCC.
“We remain opposed to the original parking meter scheme,” said the spokesperson. “Any parking system that is created must be of benefit to the High Street.”
HCC had 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. NFDC will retain responsibility for its public car parks.
Cllr Jack Davies urged HCC to drop the scheme altogether, pointing to the administrators being called in by high street fashion chain Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which owns a shop in the town as well as Peacocks and Jaeger. A combined 24,000 jobs nationally are reportedly in the balance.
“My heart goes out to the local people whose jobs are at risk,” Cllr Davies said. “This is an example of why the planned parking charges for Lymington High Street make no sense.
“The county council must scrap the planned parking charges for Lymington High Street to prevent more misery.”