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The car park to go "Pay & Display" soon (probably)!

Discussion in 'Otford Safety First / Car Parking Issues' started by Otford Village Memorial Hall, Nov 8, 2012. Replies: 8 | Views: 2672

  1. At the Parish Council Meeting on Monday coming (12th November at 7.30 in the Club Room) one of the items on the Agenda reads as follows -
    To receive recommendations on the introduction of a Pay & Display scheme in the village car park and the level of charges and to vote on the recommendations​

    This is likely to be approved by the Parish Council but a number of people who attended the public meeting back in June were of the opinion that the Council were going to hold another meeting so that they could outline their plans to the village before any decisions were made.

    All parishioners are encouraged to attend the Parish Council meeting on Monday but if you, like us, believed that the Council were going to hold another meeting before any decisions were made please write to the Parish Council at parishcouncil@otford.net and tell them as such.
  2. JohnH

    JohnH New Member

    I went to the Public Meeting back in June and my understanding, coming away from that meeting, was that having had further suggestions and comments from the public, the Parish Council were going to consider them and present options for further consultation before any firm decisions were taken.

    This view is further re-inforced by consensus from other people talking about this emotive topic now in the village, as they become aware what may happen on Monday evening. Additionally, the Otford village column in the Sevenoaks Chronicle following the June meeting, compiled by Kay Drake, with the item (presumably) submitted by the Parish Council proposes another meeting themselves. That weeks column can be read here. Quote:
    The news now that Monday's Parish Council meeting is going to be voting on a Pay and Display Scheme, effectively by-passing any further consultation previously committed to by the Parish Council, seems wrong.

    I have also just been made aware of notes taken at the June meeting by OPC "Input/actions from car park consultation meeting – 29th June 2012" which reports me as saying:
    This is incorrect! The OVMH Ticket and Display suggestion does NOT involve clamping at all. The proposal outlined here suggests that people will only face a financial penalty after 2 previous warnings of infringement. This should significantly reduce any thoughts of badgering the Parish Council staff as the person concerned has already been told twice, without financial penalty that they are breaking the rules.

    I find it surprising that the Parish Council believe that villagers ‘caught out’ by Pay and Display company staff who want to maximise their income and not likely, from experience of other Pay and Display management situations, to have any tolerance for the public, will not go knocking on the office door and blame the Parish Council staff for the situation they find themselves in. The Parish Council can then say ‘It’s nothing to do with us, ring this 0870 number' .. but, in reality, it is to do with them as they voted to implement the scheme.

    A Councillor did comment to me asking: 'Who would administer it?' regarding the OVMH proposal. The suggestion does mention
    The example local authority given: http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/Home/News/Action-to-tackle-unauthorised-parking.aspx said the scheme was working well and they, as a local authority, would not have gone into it without it being first passed through their legal team for approval.

    To my knowledge, there has been no dialogue with the Otford Village Memorial Hall management and Trustees about the suggestion they put forward. With incorrect notes and no consultation, there is the feeling unfortunately that the suggestion has been cast aside without proper review.

    I would dearly love to be proved wrong about the Parish Council's detailed proposals .. whatever they are .. and that Pay and Display will end up working well for the whole community. But, and it seems a big 'but' to me .. once you go down this route I don’t see it being very easy to back out of it, with the likelihood of long term contracts, if the village feels it is not for them.

    I am sure the Councillors concerned have worked incredibly hard, faced with a very complex emotive problem with the car park situation and they should be applauded for this. Otford has regrettably had to live with this issue for some considerable time, with it worsening for everyone, particularly as the village school continues to expand to become a 'district' school.

    Despite a lengthy delay and the need for action, let's have a period of consultation on the proposals on Monday, not a commitment to the unknown, in order to understand what they are and gain the support and backing of the village community for our Councillors endeavours. This will help to minimise criticism of decisions afterwards and to understand why apparently viable, workable solutions have been discounted.

    Do others share this view or have other comments / opinions to add before it is too late?
  3. JohnH

    JohnH New Member

    After the meeting tonight, it is a great shame and a missed opportunity that Otford doesn't have this now! :(
  4. Nikki Peck

    Nikki Peck New Member

    Regarding pay and display at Otford car park, I contacted by email Cllr Michelle Lowe and Michael Fallon. I will attach the emails I received that they have been assured by Otford Parish Council that no final decision has been made regarding how to manage the car park. I use the car park when and where I can to drop off and pick up my children. Quite often several times a day what with nursery lunch time pick up and after school activities. This would end up costing a fair amount when you add it all together. I feel,that if you had 2 hours free parking that would stop commuters using the car park.

    Email reply from Michelle Lowe

    The Otford car park belongs to the Parish Council so they have the final say on how the car park is managed. The Chairman of the Parish Council, John Edwards Winser, assures me that no final decision has been made about how to manage the car park.

    I think what the Parish Council are trying to do is weigh up the needs of the villagers to park there while stopping people from parking there all day which is preventing parents, shoppers, hall users etc from parking there.

    I am sure they will take your views into account. From a personal point of view (as this is not a District Council issue it has nothing to do with me) I think a free short stay period would be beneficial for the village.

    With best wishes


    Cllr Michelle Lowe

    Email reply from Michael Fallon

    Dear Nikki Peck,

    Thank you very much for your email regarding Otford Car Park.

    I have been assured by the Parish Council that no final decision has been made about how to manage the car park; the charging regime is still under consideration. I am copying your email to the Parish Council to ensure your views are registered.

    Kind regards,
    Michael Fallon MP
  5. Nathalie CC

    Nathalie CC New Member

    Living in Seal I have been a little out of the loop on this one and was alerted by the Otford Cricket Club. I spend a considerable amount of time in Otford, my two children attend the school which does involve using the car as we are not walking distance. I also make frequent use of the local shops and so use the car park to do so. My children are members of the cricket club and so we again make use of the car park during summer evenings and weekends.

    Having disappointingly understood that a Pay and Display scheme was going to be implemented without further consultation, I too have sent various emails today. I have started a Petition, which requests that any Pay and Display Scheme makes inclusion of a reasonable free parking period of 2 hours and free parking at weekends/Bank Holidays.

    However, I have since been informed by OPC that

    I will go to the surgery tomorrow, albeit very short attendance notice for anyone, especially those who work, and will ask for clarification on what 'agreeing the concept of' means exactly.

    I understood from the meeting that there were two votes at which the council unanimously agreed to
    a) introduce pay and display and
    b) set the charges at a minimum of 50p per hour
    There was some discussion about a reduction at weekends but no mention of any free periods.

    To now suggest that no final decision has been made about the management of the car park seems to be a retreat, and a very welcome one at that, as perhaps the door is not yet closed on further discussion.

    I for one have read the earlier post regarding the Ticket and Display scheme as mentioned by JohnH earlier in this thread, and cannot understand how a Ticket and Display Scheme is not the preferable option.

    The Ticket and Display FlashPark option with its 3 strike policy shows fair and reasonable consideration to the needs of the community. The FlashPark scheme works with the community. However, I do feel strongly that at weekends the parking should be unrestricted.

    Conversely, a Pay and Display scheme is antagonistic, it penalises the community and would result in much higher levels of resentment. A Pay and Display scheme is a revenue generating scheme, not a solution to the problems of the Otford Village Car Park.

    So perhaps this calls for a second Petition, to show the level of support within the community for the FlashPark scheme to be considered over and above the concept of a Pay and Display scheme.
  6. Concerned Resident

    Concerned Resident New Member

    I, too, attended the meeting on Monday evening and, like many, I was pretty appalled at the way that the meeting was handled. OK, the general public are not allowed to speak at such meetings unless invited to do so but, surely the Parish Council could see the strength of feeling about this delicate issue and should have postponed any decisions until after the second public meeting that was promised back in June.

    I am sorry to disappoint those Forum members who are raising petitions on this issue but I genuinely think that you are wasting your time. The Parish Council were quite prepared to vote this issue through at the meeting on Monday even if it was only attended by one man and his dog. The reason that it was so well attended was that a few people mobilised the village and other interested parties. The Parish Council really aren't that interested in listening to the village on this matter so, please, go ahead and get your petition signed by as many as you can (I may sign it myself subject to the wording) but don't hold your breath waiting for the Parish Council to respond by dropping the Pay and Display scheme. I am sure that the PC have now got a fairly good idea as to the feelings of the village and you would do much better spending your energies encouraging people to write or e-mail the Parish Council (parishcouncil@otford.net) individually. I don't think that petitions are the way to go.

    Of course, if you really want to show your disgust at this decision, the way to go is to do it at the ballot box at the next Parish Council elections (whenever they may be!). The only problem with that master plan is that you need another dozen or so people to stand in opposition to the existing councillors. I wish you luck with that one.
  7. JohnH

    JohnH New Member

    People, don't lose direction on the real problem .. voting through the principle of Pay and Display is not a good solution in any form for the village!

    Everyone agrees the nub of the issue is control over parking spaces that are full all day and therefore no 'churn' in the car park for visitors, shoppers, dog walkers, hall users, etc. The focus must be on using the OPC survey data that, I believe, identifies the school staff, local shop / business workers, some house owners plus, alongside what everyone thought, commuters too, who park and go to the station.

    The need for OPC to do something (or maybe nothing will end up being preferable) is because the school has expanded and is continuing to do so at a rapid rate, even more than it has already, which in itself is a big 'problem' for the village. KCC are imposing this expansion and OPC can, apparently do little about it. We need now to also support our Councillors to fight KCC on imposing the expansion without providing adequate parking provision for the increased staff. Also recognising that what has happened already, needs addressing by KCC too. The Otford Parish Plan / Village Design Statement (updated) identifies a possible 'green' car park located opposite Bubblestone Road(?), with potential direct access to the school, via crossing Pickmoss Lane. This requires substantial budget provision, but should be fought for now, not in the future.

    It would be good to see the Head Teacher, staff, Governors and PTA / parents all backing a 'no expansion without parking provision' cause!

    Our SDC Councillors say "It is not a Sevenoaks District Council issue." Yes, it is! The Section 106 (or new equivalent) monies coming from the Ryewood (Berkeley Homes) development (400+ houses at £300K = £120m revenue) should have been defined by SDC to include earmarked funding for these consequences. Where is the funding?
    Proper management by KCC of the new roundabout installation in Dunton Green may even have freed up enough to fund a second roundabout at Bubblestone Road! Our County Councillor should support dealing with this issue too.

    With a reasonably sized new 'green' car park in place, there would be no crossing of the road (how a child has not yet been seriously injured beggars belief), none of the current problems for school drop off / collection, provision for school staff parking and 'freedom', to a degree, of car parking spaces in the current car park. Plus added benefits of reduced congestion in the High Street.

    We would still need to control the level of 'all day parkers' and I continue to believe the OVMH suggestion of Ticket and Display warrants further review, plus other ideas too, to avoid the pitfalls of Pay and Display. I'm sure OVMH management committee would also welcome some consultation. Yes, Flashpark (one possible management company) is perhaps not ideal, with our councillors finding their share capital is not sufficient(?), but, with some lateral thought on who does what, it may possibly work. It certainly avoids the nonsensical situation that is being proposed with school drop-off / collection issues.

    With Pay and Display, even with any amount of free time, unless you declare that the whole car park will not be monitored at that time, mums (and dads) will still need to get a ticket. Leaving the car, taking the kids, 'queuing' for a ticket machine, going back to the car, displaying the ticket then done. Repeat again in the afternoon and the same applying too for Nursery collection lunchtime, dropping off for Kumon, Dance Classes, etc ... none of that with the alternative scheme.

    It was indicated by OPC that the Pay and Display management company require c. £30,000 revenue (profit?) to consider taking on a car park. With the tail wagging the dog, no release of pricing models(!), OPC hands seem tied to having a regime of charges to support this or heavily subsiding it. Hence the 7 days a week, long hours each day, high prices for season tickets and no free time proposals already voted through (but now under review?).

    Surely, we don't want to see £30,000+ of 'villagers' money going to an outside management company, without even considering the extra 'losses' on top of this to the village shops, pubs, cafes, etc. and the consequences of their continued viability.

    Whatever happens now: a petition will help to gauge public opinion, OPC holding 2 one hour surgeries Thursday and Friday will give a few people a chance to comment, there seems to be a whole undercurrent of feeling that the vote last Monday should be declared void and further consultation be the next step.

    If then, the only possible solution still proposed ends up being Pay and Display (short term until a 'green car park) then it may even be preferable to pass the car park to Sevenoaks DC and let them manage it, as it at least keeps the revenue local and not lost to the community.
  8. Otford

    Otford New Member

    From Thursday, 15th November 2012 Sevenoaks Chronicle - read the article.

    Anger at plans to introduce parking charges at Otford car park

    Residents, village groups and sports clubs have slammed proposals to introduce charging at Otford village car park.

    More than 70 people packed out the parish council meeting on Monday to hear plans to introduce pay-and-display parking and residents' permits.

    packed: Otford village car park at school-run time

    Councillors unanimously agreed to move forward with the charging plans for the 114-space car park in a bid to free up more spaces for short-term parking.

    But furious members of the public said the move would impact on nearby residents and local businesses, and accused the council of being anti-sport.

    From Thursday, 15th November 2012 Sevenoaks Chronicle - read the article.
  9. Ron Dullage

    Ron Dullage New Member

    This is a letter that I have sent to the Sevenoaks Chronicle following the article in this week's issue.

    The Editor,
    Sevenoaks Chronicle,
    Lime Tree House,
    15 Lime Tree Walk,
    Kent TN13 1YH

    Friday, 16 November 2012

    Dear Mr Kasper,

    I am writing on a personal level although I am the Hall Manager and Secretary to the Trustees of Otford Village Memorial Hall.

    I read with interest the article in Sevenoaks Chronicle of 15th November and I am sympathetic to many of the comments made and views expressed. As you may be aware, Otford Village Memorial Hall is accessed from Otford village car park and the introduction of charges in the car park is a matter of considerable concern to the Trustees as it could affect the financial health of the Hall.

    However, disappointed as I am about the way that this decision has been handled, I think that the current furore overshadows the tremendous volume of work that the Parish Council and Councillors undertake on an unpaid, voluntary basis on behalf of the village.

    Come on, Otford Parish Council. The parishioners understand that something has to be done about car parking but, before any contracts are signed, at least talk to the village at a public meeting and take some heat out of a difficult situation.

    Yours faithfully,

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