Published on Friday, 27th July 2018

 

This sorry tale can only be understood if you recognise it for what it is: an attempt by the LibDems to hold on to a vulnerable council seat. So apologies in advance for bringing party politics into this, but in this case it really is central.

 

Five years’ ago, when the LibDems were last in charge of the council, Craneswater residents faced getting all the student cars and third cars from across Southsea dumped in their streets. That would have been the inevitable outcome of a plan to create residents’ parking in much of the rest of Southsea, but not in this ward. An election defeat put a stop to that then, but now the LibDems are back and they are pursuing very much the same plan.

 

The MB zone, covering streets just to the south of Fratton station was a disaster. Many of the houses there are occupied by students, who either don’t own a car or register that car to their parents’ address in order to benefit from cheaper insurance. The result was that only 800 permits were issued for 1300 spaces. It was like a scene out of 1975, only this time the roads weren’t empty because most people could not afford cars, they were empty because so many of the cars were parked elsewhere. The roads outside the zone, however, were rammed with cars.

 

The new council administration is proposing to bring this scheme back and they are proposing to do it soon. They intend to bypass the usual survey process and to go straight to a traffic regulation order. This will allow them to do something by the end of this year. They also want to rush in another scheme covering the remainder of Central Southsea ward. This is not a coincidence – Labour beat the LibDem incumbent this May by a clear margin and start as favourites to win another seat next year. This whole parking plan is an attempt to save that seat – and nothing else.

 

The LibDems are then proposing to survey other areas, but at a much slower rate – these areas face at least a year of mayhem before even being surveyed. At present, their plan talks about covering the area west of Festing Road at some point before 2021. The area to the east of that isn’t even under discussion, but with restrictions potentially to the north and west, it is obvious where all the spare cars are going to end up. Ironically even the councillor in charge of transport, Lynne Stagg, knows this. Justifying the lack of a strategic approach, she said on Facebook:

 

“There are 2 problems with that [looking at the whole city at once]. 

1. Many people don't want an RPZ although they will do eventually when they experience displacement parking as RPZ s go in around them

2. We don't have the capacity in financial terms as well as enough officers to 'do' the whole city at once.”

 

Yet even knowing this, she still proposes to go ahead. This would already have gone through on 12th July had the Conservatives not called them out for breaking the rules. As it is, they now plan on using a meeting on July 31st.

 

There are good arguments in favour of residents’ parking, but it needs to be as part of a plan. Just blindly imposing zones – and emptying out streets along the way – is plain stupid. I am going to oppose it.

 

Two final points: a council scrutiny committee has spent a couple of years’ putting together a report on residents’ parking. The administration hasn’t even seen it, but who cares? It’s decision first, thinking later. Secondly, the area of Eastney to be surveyed has already been halved, following criticism at the East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum. In fact the whole document they put forward on the 12th has already been rewritten, which is yet further evidence of a lack of any parking strategy. This is all about pushing student cars out of Central Southsea ward to try and protect an incumbent LibDem from defeat by Labour. What happens down your road is not even a consideration.

 

I will be putting together a website on this topic and will write again with an update at that point.

 

Tags: Parking