Council considering U-turn on parking fees at Dunorlan Park

Last week, a committee of council shelved proposals to introduce parking fees at Dunorlan Park to allow for consultation.

As the Time reported last week [July 13]the proposed parking fees at Dunorlan Park caught the Friends of Dunorlan Park by surprise and sparked a petition.

The finance and governance cabinet advisory board committee met last week to discuss Chief Financial Officer Cllr Andrew Hickey’s proposed charges on the new cross-party borough partnership, as part of what the cabinet coalition calls its ‘legacy deficit reduction plan’.

Labor leader Cllr Hugo Pound (Sherwood), who sits on the Borough Partnership cabinet, said at last week’s committee meeting: ‘I think the sense is that [a parking charge at Dunorlan] is a step too far and that we should have more discussions… with the Friends of Dunorlan and anticipate a better understanding of the price structure.

Cllr Andrew Hickey, the Cabinet member in charge of finance and author of the deficit reduction plan, accepted a recommendation to remove these charges from the committee’s vote at last week’s (July 12) meeting so that a consultation can take place.

However, he added: “It will be considered as part of the budget process (2022/23) towards the end of this year.”

Councillors, residents of Paddock Wood and Southborough and the MP for Tunbridge Wells have all criticized plans to introduce parking charges in the two towns, as petitions are launched against the proposals.

As part of the Borough Partnership’s deficit reduction plan, free parking for the first hour at Paddock Wood and the first two hours at Southborough is to be scrapped in favor of a rate of 50p per hour.

A petition calling for “Keep Paddock Wood parking free for one hour” has generated almost 1,000 signatures after being put up last week, and a similar petition “Keep parking free for two hours in Paddock Wood”. ‘if’ in Southborough also garnered a similar number. of signatures.

And Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark also criticized the decision and urged the borough partnership to scrap the plan.

Write in this week TimeGreg Clark said the moves were a “mistake”.

“We need small businesses in our cities to attract more customers, not fewer, if they are to be vibrant and engaging,” he said.

“As well as hurting the vitality of our towns, I think it’s a financial mistake: empty shops end up costing the Council more money due to loss of commercial rates and the impact of dilapidation. .”

Paddock Wood and Southborough councilors staged protests against the plans over the weekend.

Meanwhile, an attempt to avoid parking fees at Paddock Wood failed at last week’s Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Council.

Guest speaker, Richard Barsley, managing director of Barsley department store and chairman of the Paddock Wood Business Association (PWBA) told the committee he was “stunned” by the proposals.

He said: “Customers don’t have the motivation to make more thoughtful purchases or just time for a coffee and a snack. Dwell time is crucial for many businesses in the city and the council said it aims to promote this.

Paddock Wood’s four advisers, Matthew Bailey (Independent), Ray Moon (Labour), Rodney Atkins and Suzie Wakeman (Alliance) have spoken out against the plans.

But the fee was agreed by the advisory council following a majority vote, with plans due to be presented to Cabinet at Tunbridge Well Borough Council this evening. [July 20] For approval.

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