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Hundreds back bid to re-open Tank car park

Traders and market suffer as Southern Water repairs continue

HUNDREDS have thrown their weight behind our campaign to have Whitstable’s Gorrell Tank car park fully reopened once again. Southern Water bosses have confirmed half of the vital facility will remain closed for months. It was fully closed at the end of April last year after an investigation revealed the tank, installed to protect homes and businesses in the area from flooding, had corroded. Repairs were made to the columns of the tank, which is on land owned by Southern Water, and half of the car park reopened to the public last July. But it played a crucial role in the town’s economy, hosting the town’s weekly market. Paula Holmes, who lives in Regent Street, said:

“Since the car park closed, the Thursday market has had to move to Tankerton. The traders are really struggling and it breaks my heart. We can put a man on the moon, but Southern Water can’t fix our car park?”

Forced

ESSENTIAL: Gorrell Tank car park remains half shut
ESSENTIAL: Gorrell Tank car park remains half shut

The market, which is held every Thursday and features around 30 stalls selling food and other goods, was forced to move to the Tankerton Road car park last May until the Gorrell Tank Car Park was fully reopened. At the timed market manager Andy Cullen described the situation as a “nightmare” and said he was fearful regulars who visited the market each week would not return once their habit was broken. Scores of people who rushed to sign our petition also highlighted the trade of the town the Thursday market. Dierk Krause said:

“Whitstable is in desperate need of the car park and we want our market back where it belongs.”

John Naylor wrote:

“The Gorrell Tank Car Park is essential to the survival of Whitstable’s town centre.”

While Heath Gardner added:

“This is a tourist town and there is nowhere for all the extra visitors to park. The park-and-ride finishes too early, and lots of people who want to use the restaurants and pubs at night can’t because of the early time of the last park-and-ride bus. We need the car park to reopen.”

A spokesman for Southern Water said columns under the other half of the car park require further repairs before it can be fully reopen. But the company is looking at the possibility of improving and reconfiguring the tank and is not planning to carry out further repairs on the second half until that process is complete. This is likely to take several months.

Facebook views

Readers took to our Facebook page to vent their fury about Southern Water’s faIlure to reopen the Gorrell Tank Car Park any time soon.

Robert Marriott: “Why is it taking them so long! I never see anyone there doing any work or anything, no wonder it’s taking them so long.”
Graham West: “Southern Water are victimising the people of Whitstable. Is it pay back for the half a million pound fine for polluting Swalecliffe Brook in 2013? What do you all think?”
Mavis Nye: “Another summer of packed roads then. It should be a priority as Whitstable is so popular with visitors.”
Dave Alcock: “Local elections are in May, so don’t expect anything from Canterbury City Council until after then. They are desperate to sell off their car parks for development and this is a perfect excuse for them. I doubt there is any pressure on Southern Water to get this resolved. The longer it goes on the more likely it will never reopen.”
Sharon Smithers: “This is outrageous! We have so many tourists and holiday makers down here, where are they going to park? Pull your act together Southern Water.”
Sue Stevens: “Please, please, please can we have permit parking in the Conservation Area? We can’t actually use our car at weekends.”

Herne Bay Times, March 11th 2015

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