Is it a U-turn or even a partial U-turn on the parking fiasco engulfing the new Green led Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
When we last reported on this issue, on the 7 Nov, the Council were proposing to make nearly £400,000 per annum from motorists for parking on streets in Folkestone, Sandgate, Hythe & New Romney.
However, within a week the Council has been persuaded to change the original proposal of losing the current free 2 hour parking while collecting nearly £400,000, to plug the deficit, to nearly £300,000 with a free initial 30 minutes, and both of these are the best case scenarios
How the loss of a £100,000 per annum will affect the Council’s coffers and their deficit plans was not explained at last night’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee.
Cllr Connor McConville (Lab) (pictured) made it clear
“Without Folkestone, the scheme doesn’t really work. I mean all the money is coming out of Folkestone.”
He then proceeds to state:
“Making money is the least important point”
and references recommendation E; which states:
Help plug the council’s budget deficit.
The Council are proposing 132 parking spaces in Folkestone which are situated in the following roads:
Map shows parking bays which are currently free for 2 hours. The Council is proposing these roads become 30 minutes free parking only and payment of £2 thereafter. The statutory consultation will run from 24 Nov to 18 Dec.
We like Cllr McConville have walked these roads within the last week and we like he make it a 102 parking spaces, not a 132 as the report states. The disabled bays will stay and will not be charged for. The Council’s Proposed Areas for Folkestone, on Sandgate Rd does not include the area from Cheriton Place down to the Traffic lights. However, this is an oversight by the Council and the map maker, as the stretch of Sandgate Rd from Chambers to the O2 shop is included in the proposals to charge. This stretch has 41 parking places. So given we and Cllr McConville have found only 102 parking spaces, this would mean the financial modeling is not correct, as there is a loss of 23% loss of parking spaces, and the loss of these spaces has not been accounted for in the Council’s financial modelling.
Also if residents of Manor Rd, Christchurch Rd and Cheriton Place leave there cars outside their homes, these bays are not then available for parking to people coming into town and as such affects the financial modeling as well. This is a loss of a further 30 plus bays, so bringing the total down to around 70 available bays; which again affects the financially modeling, as the council will have lost 47% of their parking bays.
But for a moment, put all that to one side. Back in August 2020 we made it clear with a ton of evidence the Council’s on street parking was losing money. And again in August 2021. On Street Parking does not make money according to the Council, so why propose something which is already a loss making scheme?
Anyway Cllrs on the O&SC debated this for 34 minutes last night and can be seen below.
Today, 15 Nov 2023, it will go before Cabinet to decide. If they agree to move forward with the proposal to charge for parking on the High Streets of Folkestone, Sandgate, Hythe & New Romney, then it will go out to Statutory consultation which has been extended by 3 days, so will run from the 24 Nov 2023 to 18 Dec 2023.
The previous documents available to the public were:
PD- Proposed Areas (unchanged)
And the additional new documents are:
We publish them for transparency.
If one looks at the report produced by Watermelon Research in Feb 2020, parking is mentioned eleven times. Parking issues were seen as the no 1 barrier to using Folkestone’s amenities, particularly the shops. So charging for town centers will continue to be a serious issue for months and years to come if the proposal which goes before Cabinet tonight (15 Nov) is passed.
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Voxatiousness