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Letter: Sort the Parking to Help the Environment

Published on: 19 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 19 Feb, 2021

From: Paul Jarvis

In response to: Financial Truths That Face Down Political Misinformation

The constant comparison of Guildford parking to other boroughs is, for local residents, rather meaningless. I’m not going to drive to Kingston to go to the bank when I live in Guildford.

The £1 an hour rate is, of course, very reasonable. Except that it is not £1 an hour, it is a minimum charge of £3 per stay in more than 50% of the town’s parking spaces. Only 18% of parking is now available for short-stay usage. There is no evidence published that this is a sufficient number or adequately located to best serve the residents.

But the biggest issue with the parking charge is the completely incoherent parking policy it is part of.

More than a year ago, Guildford Borough Council was very proud to declare a climate emergency, promising to put the environment central in all decision-making.

You would then expect the obvious answer to long-stay town-centre parking is to keep the private cars (and the congestion and pollution they bring) in the out of town Park and Ride car parks and encourage use of the electric buses into town.

But, the £3 three-hour parking charge does the complete opposite. It is cheaper to park in the town centre than to Park and Ride for anything other than a single person. This actively discourages use of the Park and Ride and will directly increase the number of vehicles coming into the town centre.

This is hardly putting the environment front and centre in this policy creation.

My final issue is with EV (electric vehicle) charging. All town centre charging-points are now only in the long-stay car parks, hardly encouraging the use of EVs for the many local residents who regularly pop into the town centre for medical appointments, to visit the bank, library or market.

My suggestion is to increase the hourly rate in the town centre to make it financially beneficial to use the Park and Ride, drive out-of-town shoppers into the Park and Ride and ideally reduce the adherence on town centre parking.

Businesses of course will want free parking outside their shop doors, but this is the kind of compromise needed if the council is serious about delivering on its climate emergency promise.

Cllr Redpath seems to paint this criticism as some kind of political point-scoring “misinformation”, I can assure him it is not. I am a historic Lib Dem voter who loves the idea of a residents party working for the residents.

I just do not see that happening on this issue and find that the rhetoric of the council is in complete contrast to its actions on this. We deserve better thought-through and better-evidenced policies which, at the bare minimum, work within the wider agendas the council purports to be working.

I am not alone in this view. As I write, the ePetition I have started on the GBC website is already the second-most popular after only two days of being live.

The residents of Guildford borough are making their voices heard. Will the Residents for Guildford and Villages listen?

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