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Anger at plans to wipe out 400 parking spaces

Controversy over ‘green’ traffic measures approved by the council

MORE than 400 parking spaces in Canterbury could be removed, due to green measures approved by Canterbury City Council. Almost 30 people filled the pews for members of the general public to have their say about the council’s proposals in a meeting last week. Many were there to object to the plans, but there was also a lot of support for the Initiatives, which place more emphasis on sustainable transport.

Sustainable

Debbie Barwick, owner of Revivals, the retro clothes shop in St Peter’s Street, was against the council’s decision to axe city-centre parking spaces. Speaking for the Canterbury Independent Trader’s Alliance, Mrs Barwick accused the council of being “hell bent” on destroying small independent traders. She said:

“They say these changes will encourage people to use buses. But people do not all like buses and shoppers will use their cars to go anywhere with free parking – anywhere except Canterbury.”

In total, 439 parking spaces have been earmarked for disposal in the strategy. This includes totally removing the car parks at Castle Row and Rosemary Lane. Mrs Barwick’s criticisms were echoed by Ukip councillor David Hirst, who said the council’s continued dedication to the bus service was equivalent to “selling off the family silver”. He said:

“We’re pouring money into the bus partnership, while frontline services are being cut. Do we need all these buses? A lot of them are empty or nearly empty.”

The claims were later refuted by Councillor Peter Vickery-Jones, the portfolio-holder for transport, who said more than seven million people had used the Canterbury bus service in the past year alone. He added:

“It’s patently obvious that traffic congestion in Canterbury is bad, and at times, horrendous. Yet there are stifi those who demand more parking spaces in the inner city.”

Heritage

“Canterbury is not just about shopping, it’s also about the seven million tourists and the several thousand students, who are here for our heritage and culture. No one wants a city choked with cars, which Is the way we are going at the moment.”

Richard Moore, transport manager for the council, also responded to the criticisms, saying:

“Many of our parking spaces are empty except at Christmas. We cannot supply new spaces just to account for that Christmas demand. The key problem we need to deal with is congestion. That is what keeps people from coming into the city centre. If we made city centre parking cheaper or built more spaces, all you would be doing is creating more congestion.”

The council was supported by several environmental activists, such as Dr Gillian Corbie, a committee member of cycling organisation Spokes. She said:

“I’m hugely impressed by this transport strategy. Recent events like the smog cloud must concentrate our minds. We are facing two big public health issues here – public health, and air pollution. This plan will help kill two birds with one stone. Please, Canterbury, let’s do it.”

Council leader John Gilbey said:

“It’s always very difficult to get across just how much work goes into putting something like this together. When you go out to consultation, you cannot listen to the last person you speak to. You have to take a practical. logical view, and that is what this does.”

The council recommended that those who raised concerns forward them to the Planning Inspector, who will now begin looking over the strategy as well as the Local Plan, to see how much of it can be implemented.

Wait for it…

CABINET members at Swale Borough Council were due to approve plans for waiting restrictions in Faversham town centre when they met last night (Wednesday). The plans include painting yellow lines in East Street, Preston Street, Market Street, Market Place and Court Street. It would mean parking restrictions in these areas are lifted between 6pm and 6am. The plans were discussed at the Swale Joint Transportation Board last month. They include having new signs explaining the revised restrictions installed on existing posts or walls. Cabinet officials were Set to consider the objections but were recommended to go ahead with the proposal. Some residents are angry at the plans to paint the yellow lines in the medieval town centre. Swale Borough Council has said the lines will be a conservation yellow, which is much duller than regular yellow lines. If cabinet members decided to approve th restrictions the work to paint the lines could start next month.

Herne Bay Times, April 17th 2014

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