Applications open for Old Town residents parking permits as debate rumbles on
- Credit: Archant
Applications for residents’ parking permits in areas of the Old Town in Stevenage opened on Thursday last week, following a long debate about whether they were needed or not.
The disagreement over Old Town parking permits being used to deter commuters, and those shopping in High Street, from parking in residential roads has been ongoing for some time.
Some felt that they did not have a parking issues in their street – while others welcomed the scheme, as it was felt it would enable them to park outside their homes.
Following a public consultation, Stevenage Borough Council voted to implement the scheme earlier this year.
The permit scheme will be in place in Albert Street, Basils Road, Grove Road, Southend Close, Stanmore Road, Victoria Close and part of Church Lane and Walkern Road, starting on December 1.
Alleyns Road is to be initially left out of the scheme, but could be added depending upon the impact of displaced parking in the area.
The annual cost for a first vehicle at the address will be £45, or £28 for six months. For a virtual permit, it will be £40 or £24 respectively.
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To purchase a paper permit for a second vehicle, residents will be charged an additional £71 annually, or £41 for six months – and £66 a year or £37 per six months for virtual permits.
Residents can hold up to three resident permits per address, with the final permit costing £97 per year, or £53 every six months. A third virtual permit will cost £92 for the year, or £49 for six months.
Enforcement will be in place from 9.30am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.
Stanmore Road resident Andy Prior, who created his own survey for affected residents, told the Comet: “As a group we have been very fortunate to have had a meeting with councillors Jody Hanafin and Jim Brown to discuss proposals, for which we are grateful that they gave up their time for us, however they have both stated that nothing can be changed at this stage.
“Now knowing the feeling of the majority of residents that were silent through the consultation process, it is most disappointing.
“We have been asking that if the scheme cannot be stopped it is paused, especially during a lockdown where job losses are being announced daily.
“In the current climate this seems very out of touch with the local community.”
In response to concerns around the timing of the scheme being implemented, Councillor Lloyd Briscoe, executive member for transport, explained: “This scheme has been in the planning for the last four years. It was triggered by a significant number of households in the affected area complaining to the council about the parking of cars by people who weren’t necessarily local to the Old Town and using these roads for reasons of personal convenience, to the detriment of the local residents.
“The council subsequently conducted a comprehensive survey or residents views and opinions, the findings of which have been made public and are now well-documented as being in favour of the scheme.
“Based on officers’ recommendations – and after consultation with the local ward councillors – the decision was taken to proceed with a permit scheme. Once the Decision Record has been signed off, there is a statutory obligation to press on. At the time of committal, there was an option to suspend implementation for a maximum of just six months. Given that this matter had been going on for some considerable time, the recourse to suspend for a further six months seemed hard to justify – especially as the furlough scheme was scheduled to end on October 31.
“We have since learnt that the government has elected to extend the furlough scheme for another six months, but this was after all the necessary legal compliance measures had already been committed to.”
Mr Prior also raised concerns about the cost of permits, and if the scheme was to become oversubscribed.
“When you look at the growing income generated from parking you will see that it is a very attractive stream of revenue,” he continued.
“Once the initial costs have been recouped SBC have not confirmed if permits would become free of charge to residents which surely should be the case if it is not about revenue.
“We have also asked what happens if the scheme is oversubscribed – so if there are 451 homes but only 600 spaces available, if there are over 600 applications for permits are they granted or are they turned away? And if a surplus is granted and spaces aren’t available what happens?
“In closing I would just add that during COVID commuter rates are down, shops are shut in the High Street, people are being told to work from home with the furlough scheme extended until March 2021 – it is almost as if the people that make the decisions are living in a bubble totally unaware of what is happening in their town and country.”
A council spokesman said in response to these concerns: “The council’s surveys showed three quarters of respondents wanted a permit scheme. The 25/155 statistic is the response to the statutory consultation letter which specifically asked people to let us know if they had objections.
“Revenue was certainly not a factor in the decision and permit costs have been set with the intention of breaking neutral.
“The costs of the scheme are ongoing administration for permit applications, renewals and amendments, and the issuing of visitor vouchers and the additional costs of patrolling and enforcing the area. The scheme does not become free to administer for the council.
“Each household can apply for no more than three permits and in reality the number issued will be much lower. No permit parking scheme can guarantee anyone a parking space but the probability of finding a space near your home will be significantly improved by the removal of vehicles belonging to non-residents.”
To apply for a permit, go to stevenage.gov.uk/parking/parking-permits/resident-parking-permit.