Automatic Payment Parking comes to Weybridge

Work begins in September for a ticketless payment system for Churchfields car park. There will be several options but most locals will probably choose to simply drive in – drive out and pay on account.

No longer will you have to guess you length of your stay.  If you bump into a friend whilst shopping you can can have a coffee or lunch without going to fill the meter.  No need for coins either.

Convenience

Unlike many car parks elsewhere you will not even have to pay on exit via a pay-station. You simply drive out.

Of course, non-locals will have to use a pay station – unless they choose to register their vehicle on account.

Costs

Although the new car park should be a great benefit to users it will cost the borough a loss in revenue of around £30,000 a year.  This is currently what is collected from parking fines.  With barriered pay on exit parking penalties will reduce almost to nothing.

Some might say that the borough should have increased the parking charges to cover the cost of the proposals.  However, the Liberal Democrat led Elmbridge administration decided to recommend the full council agree this proposal without changing the charges in any way.

The main reason is that people might develop different parking habits from before and we felt it would be prudent to see what changes, if any, might be required.

Charge by the minute not the hour

So charges will remain at current levels.  After a few months we will be able to assess the new usage pattern and new, more flexible, charging arrangements could be introduced – possible pay only for the minutes used rather than the mainly current hourly system.  As ever, there will be consultations before any payment charge proposal are introduced.

We have reasonable confidence that once the barriers are installed the level of parking charge evasion will decrease to almost zero and therefore the revenue will increase by between 10% to 30%.  We’ll see.  As we get closer to the launch date we will be sending out more detailed information.

Maintaining your assets

The borough maintains 97 car parks across Elmbridge.  They ranging from our town centres through to our commons.

In becoming portfolio holder for transport in May 2016 Cllr Andrew Davis asked for a current valuation and maintenance programme for all the car parks.  Unfortunately, apart from Drewitt’s Court this had not been undertaken for many years.  Perhaps the previous Conservative administration thought the car parks could mend themselves.

A condition survey was undertaken in 2016 to identify the state of the borough’s car parks and the financial commitments for repairs over the next five years. The full cost to bring the car park up to standard is £13m.

The borough’s obligations relating to Drewitts Court in order to comply with the terms of the existing leases, require that a structural evaluation of the ramp be undertaken immediately and that the repairs be carried out as quickly as possible. It is likely that the full cost will be £1,500,000.

To catch up with the amount of maintenance required for the other car parks the borough plans to spend up to £6m over the next three years.

However, with the high need for social housing, the pressure to build over car parks is high. Not all car parks are suitable but those that are should not given comprehensive repairs until their housing status is known.

Naturally, the order of work and indeed what work will be done will be undertaken with full consultation with local councillors.  A full management programme will be produced for each car park for while they are being reconstructed.  Dewetts Court will take much longer so will have a special plan.  It is likely to begin in January so us not to clash with the Christmas season.

New benefits for Elmbridge car parks

Car parking in Elmbridge is amongst the most contentious issues the borough has to deal with. Until now all car parks have been treated in the same manner across Elmbridge regardless of their circumstances.

Now, thanks to an in-depth study, led by Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Davis, portfolio holder for Highways and Transport, a more thoughtful approach is being taken to the benefit of car park users and local business.

The study found that all cars parks are not equal.  Some are heavily used and others not, a number even declining in custom.   A major finding indicated that car parks should be treated as an integral part of the local community infrastructure.  This has led to a revised and more sympathetic charging policy to encourage users to spend more time in the area to help local trade. As a result car parks in Ditton, Molesey and Hersham will enjoy free short stay parking on a Saturday to help increase shopping in those areas. In addition all town and village car parks in the borough will be free for the four Saturdays before Christmas for the same reason. The policy will be reviewed after nine months and adjusted as necessary.

For the particular benefit of residents and other users, monthly season tickets, contactless payment facilities and pay-on-exit schemes will be introduced.

It is estimated that the cost for free parking around the year in the nominated car parks will be £14-16,000 for 2017.  This is seen as an acceptable investment to help both Elmbridge residents and traders.

Money has also been agreed for the improved up keep of car parks and to provide temporary arrangements to offset restricted parking while repairs are undertaken in Drewitts Court car park in Walton.

Grotto Pub Site

Grotto Pub Site webMany of you will know of the Grotto Pub Site.  It was my local when I moved here over thirty years ago.

On Monday next a planning application (2015/2042) will be presented for the demolition of the pub and the building of nine one-bedroom flats.

There will be no provision for cars on the site because the site is adjacent to the town centre and therefore it is considered to be in a sustainable location.  What do you think the likelihood is that none of the new 9 to 18 occupants of this development would have a car?   Where would they park?  A local told be recently that if a development was not expected to be occupied by car-owners then that should be written into the lease of the occupancy – as it is in London.  Interesting idea – what do you think?

The junction of Monument Hill and Baker Street is not, to say the least, optimal.  The sight lines are poor – the new wall might make it worse.  The curvature of the Baker Street entrance encourages speed.  The new development will reduce the width of the pavement – presently people walk over the front of the Grotto to pass each other.  These are not the fault of the proposal.

The flats are entirely north facing – so the occupants could not be in their flats and overlook Hillcrest.

I welcome your views on this prominent site.

Parking Charges Up over 25%

Elmbridge metersThe cost of parking in the borough’s car parks is set to rise from around 25% to 300% over the next three years.  On 8 July the Conservative cabinet decided to recommend that there would be increases across the board.  This evening the full council approved the cabinet’s recommendation using its Conservative majority.

I voted against.  My view is that car-park pricing should be developed using a clear and understandable logic that everyone could understand – even if they did not agree with some of the outcomes.  The current charging policy is not consistent across the borough nor it is based on clearly defined principles.  For more details click here.  As ever, your thoughts are very welcome.

Baker Street Car Park

Following requests for better access to the path behind Morrisons from Baker Street Car Park, I asked for the railing to be removed and a parking space to be set aside for pedestrians.

Railings
The administration does not want to remove the railings because it does not want to establish a right of way across the car park into the store.  The administration’s objective is to maximize the value of the land it owns and a right of way could considerably reduce that value.

Path access
The administration has accepted that the access to the path should be made easier and the borough’s parking services team are in the process of ‘packaging’ the proposal with a few other areas to try and ensure economy of scale and best value.  There is no specific timescale at the moment, but they expect it will take another few weeks to finalise these elements.

Weybridge Point

River Grant for car park-01Elmbridge has received an application for a grant of £82,000 to change the layout of the path through the car park at the end of Thames Street with an aim to highlight the Thames Path and focus on the view of the Thames.

 

 

River View-01This bid is competing with many other bids from around the borough. What do you think? If you want to know more about it click on  Weybridge Point Car Park. The meeting to decide on this is being held on Monday, 29 September.

River Grant-02