A nuanced approach to parking needs

Part of the work that the Liberal Democrats have undertaken in relation to parking is to examine the availability of parking space in Weybridge at midnight.  This time was chosen because the cars parked on-street would only be ours – just residents.  The shops are closed and the evening trade is over.  Shop and office workers have long gone home.  You can see from the map below that the pattern of nighttime parking stress varies widely across the town.  People living in streets next door to each other can have quite a different experience.  The key indicates what the colours mean.  The streets marked red had no available spaces at midnight and the streets in green indicate streets where parking spaces were freely available.   Some longer streets can have a varying experience along their length. 

The overall picture is quite different at midday. It may come as a surprise but the parking stress if lower at midday than at midnight.  Again the parking experience can vary remarkably from street to street.

These maps only show two times in the day – midnight and midday.  Ideally, there would be a map for every minute or hour of the day.  We all know demand flows across the town at different times.  The drop off and pick up for schools has an acute impact for certain locations.

A street could be amber and not red simply because there is one space available – so the amber streets are under stress too.  As is yellow, with three spaces available for every ten cars.

Flexible Parking in Churchfields

This summer much needed improvements will be brought to you by the Liberal Democrats. The first to arrive will be flexible parking in Churchfields car park.  The changes are part of the investment in quality and innovation programme across Elmbridge, which will bring five benefits:

  • Stay for as short or long a time as you like – no need to decide beforehand
  • Total refurbishment of the car park, bringing a new layout -improving capacity – and total resurfacing, with a solid foundation
  • Free pop-in parking: to pop into the library or pick up a prescription
  • Park and go – where you lock up and walk to the shops – no need for a ticket
  • No more penalties for overstaying

This is just the first step – greater flexibility will follow.  We want the car park to be well-used but also to always have some spaces available.

Using the parking surplus for our town

Elmbridge’s car parks make a surplus each year and up till now this has gone into the borough’s general fund for spending on our services, from meals on wheels to parks and recreation grounds.  Weybridge generates the highest surplus in Elmbridge so would gain most if some of the surplus was used to pretty up the town.

In fact this is one of the initiatives brought in by the borough’s Liberal Democrat/Residents administration last year for action this year.  The plan is to set up a fund for each town, based upon the surpluses from car parks in that town.

The council agreed this policy on 19 July 2017 to begin in the year starting May 2018 from funds accumulated in 20217/18.  This extra funding will be made available to support local sustainable transport and highway improvements, or extra townscape improvements. The precise figures are not ready yet, as the year is not complete. Our plan is for the proportion of parking surplus dedicated to these projects to increase year by year.

We would really be interested in you views on what you would like to see.

Investing in our car parks

For the last ten years Conservative administrations have left our car parks to rot just like our roads. The new Liberal Democrat/Residents administration in Elmbridge is not going to let our borough car parks go the way of of the county’s highways, so we have undertaken a review of the state of the sites and have set in place a programme of works to restore and maintain the quality of surfaces and to reconfigure parking spaces.

We will also be introducing barriers and licence plate recognition so that cars can be parked for as long as needed rather than having to rush back for fear of being fined.

Installing a planned maintenance and improvement programme is just the beginning.  We have also begun to put funds aside each year to ensure that the programme will not be affected by the unhelpful, capricious, attitude of the national government in the nontransparent way it funds local government.

Working with residents on parking

You may not know this, but one of the reasons I stood as a councillor originally was to help find solutions to the parking problems that are faced in some parts of the town.  

As a consequence, I have talked to nearly everyone in the town and if you have not yet spoken with me yet, it is not for the want of my trying!

Lib Dem colleagues and I have been speaking with residents in streets with particular concerns – often using a survey.  Sometimes we revisit because conditions and options change.  We have worked with residents to propose solutions that work for their street and those surrounding them.

On-street parking is the responsibility of the county council and this means that any change has to be agreed by them.  This has been difficult for at least three reasons:

  • Surrey lacks coherent principals underlying its approach to on-street parking
  • The process that Surrey uses for making decisions is flawed
  • Surrey has insufficient funds to provide a speedy delivery of change

These three problems were compounded by the Conservatives’ drive to undertake parking reviews in each area only once in three years – to save money (Surrey has been governed by one party for nearly all of the last 140 years).  This policy of under- investment has been used for highway maintenance over decades, to disastrous effect.

And to cap it all Surrey’s policy is that controlled parking should not cause displacement.  Such a policy is internally inconstant.  The introduction of parking controls will cause displacement unless the new controls are so negligible that no displacement occurs – then what’s point.

As controlled parking inevitably leads to displacement the smart thing to do is anticipate and plan for it, all the time ensuring that no new stress is introduced. This is the approach that we are taking currently to a number of roads in the town centre.

CIL Bids in Weybridge

When most new developments in Weybridge are built the developer has to pay a tax referred to as CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) to help fund any increased needs locally, as  a consequence of the building.

This infrastructure can be equipment for schools, health centres, community centres or safer or better designed streets.  CIL funds may only be used for new or enhanced facilities and not for staffing, repair or general maintenance of existing facilities.

Typically in Elmbridge, towns have an allocation and bids can be made by residents or groups in the town for funds for a project. See here your most frequently asked questions.

This year in Weybridge there are seven applications for CIL funding.

We are interested to hear your views on these. Do you support any of these projects? Or would you like to comment on them?  Click on each one for more details and click here for our survey.

We also include a scoring assessment of each project for applicability and desirability.  Some projects are uncosted, do not have permission of the landowner or do not necessarily enhance our infrastructure.  But what do you think?

These are the seven applications for CIL funding in Weybridge.

  1. Surrey county for improvements to footpath  linking Broadwater path to Walton Lane. CIL funding of £8,981 has been requested to create a wider all-weather route.
  2. St James School to refurbish the Lodge to create additional teaching and community space. CIL funding of £60,000 has been requested. A quotation has been provided that is consistent with the amount requested.
  3. The Weybridge Society for improvement to lighting around the war memorial and restoration of the surroundings. CIL funding of £32,500 has been requested for the works.
  4. PA Housing for bollards to prevent parking on adopted highways land in Brooklands Road. CIL funding of £3,500 has been requested for the works.
  5. Weybridge Cricket Club for roof replacement and addition of girl’s changing facilities. CIL funding of £50,000 is requested.
  6. Walton Firs Foundation for new accommodation pods to provide additional capacity. CIL funding of £24,560 is requested. Three quotations have been provided, the lowest of which is consistent with the amount requested.
  7. St Mary’s Church Oatlands to create additional office space. CIL funding of £20,000 is requested.

The general report is here.

Grants for business

Elmbridge borough has grants to aid businesses  via the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund.  Weybridge is the biggest claimer for funds in Elmbridge.  The aim is to support the growth of the local economy.  Funding can help you business with:

  • Shop fronts and signage
  • marketing and promotion
  • town centre events
  • streetscape improvements
  • learning, skills and training

Contact 01932 474 216, email business@elmbridge.gov.uk or click here.

Weybridge station – Entrance closed

The entrance for the upper car park to Weybridge has been closed.  The gates were sadly padlocked  today and we understand may have been that way for the last  two weeks.

There was no sign indicating the closure. Just inside the locked gates was one to say it would be open 10am to 4pm.  It wasn’t.

Today, in response to an inquiry of South Western Railway, there was no direct answer to the question,  ‘why is it closed?   We were told that an answer from the station manager, Peter Burn, should be given within 20 days.

Walton Car Parks Refurbishment

Ashley Park and Dewitt’s Court car parks are now to be refurbished and works in Ashley Park has begun already..

After many years of neglect, the Liberal Democrat led Elmbridge administration has decided to refurbish all the car parks in the borough – beginning with two of Walton’s car parks.

This multi-million pound project will take place over a number of years but the Liberal Democrats aspire to reach a higher standard for the borough rather than the patch and mend policies of previous administrations.

Ashley Park car park has been a poor state for decades with many complaints about the rough surface.  Rather than mend it, previous administrations simply offered a discount parking charge for a poor quality car park. The Liberal Democrats intend to bring the car park up to standard and, once that is done, bring the charges in line with other similar car parks.

Under previous administrations, car park charges have been set across the borough on a three year cycle.  The pattern of use of each car park is more often than not quite different from its neighbours and that pattern can change over time.  This has meant that some parks are beginning to overfill while others find their usage has declined.

All car parks are now reviewed on a frequent basis to check that the charging does not mean a car park is full  – who wants to turn up at a car park that does not have a parking spot?  The same review will look to reduce charges if the car park is hardly used.  At the moment the charge for parking is the same throughout the day – in future, as appropriate, the rates will vary to maximise the utility of each car park.