The seafront of our seaside town has been blighted with a sprouting of parking meters. A bad move, for bad reasons, with unintended consequences and a hidden fact. Canterbury City Council installed 13 parking machines along the seafront and switched them on June 28. They will operate between 8.30am to 6pm every day from April 1 to September 30 with no overnight charge. The machines are solar powered and can be paid for by cash, council parking cards or mobile phone. Council spokesman Rob Davies said:
“The council has introduced these measures to improve traffic management. The aim is to put long stay parkers into off-street car parks elsewhere in the town and encourage regular turnover of spaces on the seafront. These days, it is usual to pay for parking in seaside towns. It happens everywhere else around east Kent – all the Thanet towns and Sandwich and Deal for example – and this move to introduce charging in Herne Bay brings the town in line with others.”
So having a constant turnover of 17 and 70 year olds slewing their cars to a halt by the meters and then lurching back out into the road within a couple of hours is going to “improve traffic management”. How exactly?
So Herne Bay was a little bit different from the other nearby coastal towns, and in a good way – everyone likes free parking. CCC decided that this small but distinctive advantage must be eliminated. Have a look at the vox pop piece to see some reactions – unsurprisingly, some people find it makes Herne Bay a less attractive place to visit. Thank you, CCC, for nailing the lid down.
So where are the signs pointing our visitors to the long-stay off-street car parks? No sign of them anywhere near the Marine Parade parking meters, which is where you would expect them to be, given Mr Davies’ argument.
So while the users of all the other sports centres in the district get their parking charges refunded by the sports center they are visiting, the good people of Herne Bay who park on the seafront to use the Pier and gym won’t. Part of the reason is that the sparkling new machines don’t produce two-part tickets with counterfoils, so the gym bunnies will have a 10 minute, 650 metre trudge to and from the WIlliam Street car park, come rain or shine. Congratulations, CCC, for once again giving HB the short end of the stick.
So here’s the rub: the parking fees from the Marine Parade parking meters don’t even go to our beloved Canterbury City Council – the fees go to Kent County Council. Marvellous!
HB Gazette 8th July 2010