I just want to voice my objection to the selling off of car parking spaces in Canterbury city centre. It is one of the most stupid ideas the council have come up with in order to raise cash. Cantenbury City Council chief executive John Carmichael has not grasped the point at all. It’s not about getting rid of park and ride. It’s about keeping all options for visitors to Canterbury and not limiting visitors, customers, businesses and residents’ options. It’s another experiment hoping that everyone will use park and ride. The council’s last traffic experiment at the Westgate Towers was proved to be unworkable and reduced visitors. Luckily, that could be reversed, at a cost, but once these car parks have been sold off for more housing the chance of reversing their decision is nil.
As a resident and business owner in the city centre, I hear people’s attitudes to shopping in Canterbury and elsewhere and the likes and dislikes of Canterbury’s parking situation. Councillors do not seen, to have any understanding of the issues at all, maybe because they have their own ear park which, being in a residential area would be a much better car park to sell. And they also have their permits for free parking if on council business yet they want to sell off car parks for residents, businesses and visitors who are the city’s lifeblood.
Peter Scutt of Whitefriars, who is much more aware of retail survival than the council, pointed out people can shop tram home and at other retail outlets like Wostwood Cross and Bluewater where they love motorists and provide tree parking.
I know Canterbury is a great city and offers a different retail experience to on line shopping and places such as Bluewater but the council can’t just rely on the old buildings and atmosphere to generate visitor numbers. It needs its retail businesses too but these will not survive if it becomes too hard to aecess them. Car parks have already been allocated for sale or sold, like the St. John’s Lane business car park and they see no problem losing the residents’ bays at the junction of St John Lane and Castle Street to developers. Strangely there is no information available about how the sale was agreed or how it will be disposed of and how much the land may be sold for or anything about the agreement between the council and Cityscape Canterbury. A residents’ group has also offered to buy it which would relieve the council’s burden of parking and create revenue but the council remains tight lipped about the deal or forthcoming deal with Cityscape.
Andrew Stark, Castle Street, Canterbury
Herne Bay Gazette, December 18th 2014