People hoping for early action on chronic parking issues which afflict some roads in Weybridge may be disappointed at new plans from Surrey. The idea is sound – a strategic parking review looking at needs as well as restrictions, seeking to free up spaces – but the timing and interim arrangements have left some residents feeling badly let down.
Despite previous talk of Weybridge getting an early review, we have been moved down the queue, behind Cobham. That may mean waiting until 2017 for changes.
Frozen out for now?
Until after the review, Surrey propose not to act on local parking issues unless there is an ‘irrefutable serious road safety implication’. The current system for making numerous changes yearly – to deal with specific local problems soon after they arise – will cease. This would mean proposals to deal with pressing parking issues in Dorchester Road and near the top of Thames Street being left in limbo.
So where does that leave Dorchester Road residents who were given hope of early action when they took a petition to Surrey (see PETITION RESPONSE DORCHESTER ROAD. WEYBRIDGE FOR INFORMATION)? They would love to know.
More positively, the SCC ELMBRIDGE PARKING STRATEGY EXECUTIVE FUNCTION REPORT — presented to the Surrey County Council Local Committee on 23 February 2015 — proposes a high level of consultation, using an external consultant to engage with local groups. PPDRA is determined to ensure that local Weybridge views get a good hearing.
There is a strong feeling locally that there is an overall shortage of parking in Weybridge town centre, and better collaboration is needed between Surrey County Council (responsible for on-street parking), Elmbridge Borough Council (responsible for some off-street parking) and businesses (also responsible for some off-street parking).
Surrey County Council Proposals
So what has Surrey proposed? Well, the SCC Elmbridge Parking Strategy Executive Function report prepared by Rikki Hill has a promising start:
Reasons for Recommendations. In the past, reviews of parking have tended to be reactive in nature and concentrated on where parking was not desirable and so should be controlled or restricted. A more strategic approach would allow us to also consider where parking is needed and how those parking needs may be met.
But the analysis suggests a longer than anticipated wait for action on local issues:
2.8 Adopting this new more holistic approach to reviewing parking will mean that it will not be possible to review the whole of Elmbridge at the same time. We would therefore need to review each area within the borough on a rolling programme and it would make sense to start with the Cobham area (including Stoke D’Abernon and Oxshott) as the Cobham Chamber of Commerce have already collected a considerable amount of information about the needs of local businesses and the amount of existing private off street parking spaces.
2.9 Taking into account the number of possible problems that have been brought to our attention in the last couple of years, we should then look at Weybridge, followed by the Moleseys and the Dittons, then Esher, Claygate and Hinchley Wood. We should finish with Walton & Hersham, as this is where there has most recently been a comprehensive review.
2.10 The aim would be to complete the reviews in all the areas within the next three financial years after which we would review our strategy and consider whether to start the process again or adopt a new approach.
2.11 As there may still be parking issues that arise outside of the above programme, where there is an irrefutable serious road safety implication, we would want to continue with a smaller version of the current review system to deal with these.
The parking issue in Dorchester Road probably doesn’t have “an irrefutable serious road safety implication”. A case might be made for safety improvements at the top of Thames Street, but our previous experience of arguing for restrictions on safety grounds — at the end of Grotto Road — was that Surrey County Council really wanted evidence of someone being seriously injured (“anyone can say a road is dangerous, but we need to see evidence”).
The root of the issue north of Weybridge High Street is that parking by non-residents has been squeezed out of adjacent roads by restrictions (including residents-only parking). So Dorchester Road and the top of Thames Street have become the nearest accessible places for town centre workers looking for spaces, leaving some residents with nowhere to park. And now Weybridge has a new supermarket with no on-site staff parking spaces.