‘Outrage’ over parking permit sell-off

A COUNCIL is considering a move which would allow non-residents to park in permit-only residential streets across several towns, in a bid to generate more money.

North Herts District Council (NHDC) wants to charge people �500 per year to park in permit-only residential streets in Hitchin, Letchworth GC, and Baldock.

The proposal has left some “outraged”, with Hitchin triangle residents expressing concerns over an increase of traffic and fewer spaces for themselves.

One resident of The Avenue, who did not wish to be named, said: “The reason that parking permits were introduced as I understand was to stop people parking in these road to walk to the station.

“The roads should not be used as an extension to the train station parking, which is what it will be. It’s not right that we have to pay to park in our own street anyway. At the end of the day, our council tax is so huge so why should we pay to park in our own road?

“Paying �500 for a year is cheaper than any other car parks, so it’s obvious which option people will choose. It’s outrageous. The road will end up as a huge matrix car park.

“Children from schools use the footpaths, which is going to be dangerous. I have three children, all of school age, and I would be concerned for their safety.”

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Currently, only those who own or rent a house in their respective streets can park in these areas, at a cost of �76 per year. Residents are also allowed one visitor permit per household, at the same cost.

Cllr Judi Billing, whose Bearton ward has several permit-only roads, said she would strongly oppose the proposals.

She added: “I think that it’s very ill-thought through. Certainly in the areas that I represent it will have an impact.

“It’s one of the silliest ideas given. We need all those spaces. I’ve had emails and phone calls from people saying that they think it’s an appalling idea. People are worried about it.”

Letchworth GC Cllr David Kearns said: “Providing they (commuters) do not take precedence over the residents who have the priority, I think it’s something worthy of further consideration.”

NHDC said that it would hold a consultation with area committees, highway authorities and police to seek advice and feedback.

Cllr Tom Brindley, North Herts District Council’s portfolio holder for planning, transport and enterprise said: “A policy will be discussed at Cabinet next week that will enable a limited amount of parking permits in certain controlled parking zones across North Herts to be sold to non-residents on a limited basis.

“Many controlled parking zones have not had a high level of take up of permits by residents and there is spare parking space on street during the day. The aim of the proposal is to help ease the pressure of commuter parking and keep permit prices down for residents.

“A decision is expected to be made next week on the policy but if it is agreed non-residents will have to satisfy a number of criteria before a permit would be sold to them, and each zone would be considered on its own merit. Our primary concern will still remain the parking needs of residents.”