Clear thinking in Washington Street

speechbubble3As we enter the last fortnight of the council’s consultation period, a group of Washington Street residents have circulated a clear letter to their neighbours, setting out some convincing reasons to support a controlled parking scheme for Hanover & Elm Grove. Here’s what they said:

“Dear Washington St neighbours                                                              16 Dec 2016

You may have read the letter posted through our letterboxes from George in Albion Hill where he gives his views against the proposed parking scheme for the area. Many of us who live in Washington St disagree with him and would like to say why.

Washington St is a narrow street that was, like much of Hanover, never designed for cars, particularly cars parked on both sides of the street.  Large vans get completely stuck, and parked cars get damaged all the time.

Emergency vehicles (ambulances/fire engines) would struggle to get down this street as it currently is – so let’s hope we don’t need them. We don’t currently have doorstep bin collection, but if we did revert to that, having parking on one side only would be a great benefit for access, but there is NO EVIDENCE that this is any kind of agenda for the council at all.

Even though our streets are full of cars, these are not all Hanover cars. Study after study shows that only up to 58% of Hanover homes own a car*.  The others are:

  • Shoppers parking in Brighton’s last free ‘car park’
  • American Express employees and commuters
  • Visitors who don’t want to pay to park closer to town
  • Cars owned by people in CPZ areas nearby, who don’t want to pay
  • People in Brighton who leave second/third cars and camper vans here
  • Garages who park all their fixed cars up here for owners to collect

So even with a reduction of parking spaces to 50% in SOME Hanover streets, take out all these others parking here and we could still assume there will be sufficient space for all residents, and then we’d get these benefits too:

  • Our streets would look and feel so much nicer – not a car park anymore
  • We could park without driving round for 20 minutes looking for a space
  • Less air pollution
  • People with buggies would be able to move around more easily
  • People could gather/kids could play out on the streets more

The current situation disadvantages residents and is only a benefit for those from outside the area wanting free parking. We need the quality of life here to be the priority so please support the proposed scheme and let’s make Hanover a much better place to live! Please think carefully and vote even if you don’t have a car.

Kind regards

Tracy, Alick, Lesley, Jonathan, Anna, Chris and other Washington St Resis.

http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/hanover-parking

* The census, council surveys, residents’ surveys – into levels of car ownership, have pointed to the same conclusion; only around 50- 58% of households in Hanover have a car. It is hard to be exact on this, but it seems a reasonable prediction that – even with the reduced capacity suggested – there will be sufficient space for residents’ cars. Without a CPZ scheme this will never be the case. Thanks for reading x

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21 thoughts on “Clear thinking in Washington Street

  1. I’ve just voted in favour of the CPZ in Lynton Street (Top Triangle) and in order to reduce rat running, I’ve requested a traffic island on Queens Park Road to stop right hand turns

  2. My objection to the current scheme is based on a number of factors, 20 streets would have available parking reduced by 50%, The scheme is expensive, the national average is £64.00 but normal car permit for this scheme would be £130.00. The local parking problems largely down to the council failing to provide alternative affordable parking for either visitors to or local workers in is area. If the old Amex building currently being demolished were to become a car park the local daily parking problems would be much reduced.

    • Hi George, thank you for taking the time to comment.

      The scheme proposed for Hanover & Elm Grove is the same cost as all the other schemes in the city. I don’t know why other councils charge less,but I don’t think there is any chance of this price being reduced for any scheme in Brighton & Hove as a result of Hanover & Elm Grove residents voting to reject parking controls altogether.

      Personally, I don’t agree that the council’s job is to provide parking for Amex workers or other people who drive into the centre of town. I think there are way too many cars in the town centre already, and the council should instead be trying to plan our city centre to discourage private car use and enable people to do their shopping and other business in the town centre by more sustainable and healthy modes of transport, such as bikes, walking and public transport.

      • My point is the cost of the scheme is still expensive. Based on counting houses on the map I estimate around 4700 spaces so assuming 55% car ownership, which I think is an underestimate, this will still generate £336K per annum which I believe is the true driver behind the councils desire to implement the scheme.

        Regarding parking I grew up in York which is a cathedral city with similar problems to Brighton many narrow streets which were being clogged with cars. The city centre is now mainly a pedestrian only zone and parking not a problem due to 6 park and ride scheme being created on the outskirts with capacity for just short of 5 thousand cars allowing visitors to park for free a get a bus into town. Park and Ride schemes are possible as they exist already for match-days at the new community stadium. 3 sites at Mill Road, Brighton racecourse, The University and Mill Road allow fans to park and get a bus to stadium.

        If the council is truly committed to reducing traffic volumes then Park and Ride schemes are something they should be looking at for Brighton.

    • Hi again, George.

      The thing is, we are not being asked for our opinion on park and ride. If we say no to a controlled parking scheme in Hanover & Elm Grove, the council won’t builld a park & ride scheme instead – they will just leave things as they are, with our streets being used as a giant free car park for the centre of town.

      I’d rather people didn’t bring their cars to Brighton at all, than drive them to the outskirts and park on (presumably) new car parks built in the national park. But both your and my views on park and ride are largely irrelevant to the question of whether we should try to get a grip on the current parking problems in Hanover.

      I think you are simply mistaken about the council trying to push through a parking scheme for some nefarious purpose such as raising money or facilitating bin collections (actually, I think it’s fairly reasonable for the council to be doing both those things). I think they have approached the whole business in a frustratingly technocratic way, but I don’t think there is a conspiracy here. The consultation is only happening because local residents requested it.

      As I understand it, it takes several years for the income from new parking zones to cover the initial cost of implementing them (painting bays and yellow lines, installing meters and signs, issuing permits). In 2015-16, the council received a net income of £12.7 million from on-street parking (including residents’ permits, metered parking and fines for illegal parking). They were obliged to spend £10.7 million on concessionary bus fares and the rest went on other transport projects such as keeping essential bus services running where the bus company considers them unprofitable. I’m glad the council does these things.

      I’d prefer it if our local services were generously funded by progressive taxation, but that is also, sadly, not the question we are being asked here.

      • Yes the council is obliged by law to provide bus passes. If it did not have this parking money it would need a council tax rise of one per cent to cover every million pounds lost – so that’s a council tax rise of about ten per cent just to cover bus passes. Or you could cut other services by £10m. Bear in mind councils have lately been prevented by goverment from raising council tax by more than two per cent, with a bit more recently for social care. Since much parking revenue is provided by non residents, this seems like a reasonably smart way of keeping costs lower for us locals.
        All the best
        Alan

      • Hi Dani,

        I have lived in this area since 1987 and in all that time i am not aware of anything having been done to reduce the demand for parking in the Hanover and Elm Grove area by providng any sort of realsitic and cost effective alternative.

        It is this lack of an alternative that has produced the situation we have today which is being used to justify the introduction of controlled parking.

        If the scheme goes ahead the result will be local workers and visitors to Brighton having nowhere else to go. Many vistitors will simply go elsewhere which will be bad for the local economy and local workers will struggle to get into work having to rely on expensive public transport. House prices and in and arround Brighton are very high and this additional cost will be a challenge some may well find unbearable.

        The consultation is happening because a majority of those that voted were in favour but this majority of 54% of the 36% that responded is only 20.3% of the residents in total.

        Regarding income from parking schemes the This is Money financial website calculated that .for 2014/15 Brighton and Hove council made a profit of £18,642.00 which was the 6th highest nationally and the highest of any council outside of London. .

      • Yes as Dani alludes that figure of £20.4m quoted by the BBC and many other media, based on a national motoring lobby press release, is wrong. As Dani said elsewhere and as the local annual parking report confirms, the surplus for on-street parking operations is £12.7m – and roughly all spent on concesssionary bus passes. One key reason this figure keeps rising is because more and more areas in the city are asking for parking schemes.
        All the best, neighbours
        Alan

      • Hi George,

        Unfortunately, if you provide more parking, this has the effect, in a surprisingly short time, of inducing additional driving and parking, not reducing demand. Initiatives like the city car club (launched in Hanover in 2003) can make a contribution to truly reducing demand for parking, but as we can clearly see now, any spaces freed up by that project have simply been filled by cars driven into the area from elsewhere. The same thing would inevitably happen if the council were to build new town centre car parks, as you suggest.

        For future reference, the authoritative figures for income from parking fees and fines is published every year by the council itself at http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/parking-and-travel/parking/parking-annual-reports. Some of the figures recently reported in the media were inaccurate – eg gross income reported, rather than the net surplus.

  3. I live in Hanover Street probably the worst affected street in the whole area and I believe this street and a couple of others (Hanover terrace for instance) could possibly be no better off. Any body living in the Hanover Scheme have free access to park in any street in the Hanover area. So Hanover street will likely be inundated by other Hanover residents. Anyone from the Hanover area will likely come to park in Hanover Street and nearby to do shopping, going to London to work, taking children to the level for children to play, working anywhere in Brighton, students Hanover street is so close to Lewes road and so on.
    We in Hanover Street will be paying for other Hanover residents – Free Parking for the whole of the scheme except Hanover Street residents who will continue to be unable to park nearby but have to pay for the scheme.#

    This could make life here even worse!

    Help!

    • Hi Ron, thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Of course, we will have to see what happens, but I would be very surprised if people from the rest of Hanover decided to drive down to the bottom of the hill to park in Hanover Street and Hanover Terrace when they are going to town, rather than simply walking for five minutes from wherever their cars are currently parked (as they presumably do now).

  4. Not meaning to sound rude Ron but I find it inconceivable people from other Hanover Streets would drive down there to park. It’s just too much bother. If it helps, I wouldn’t use my car to drive anywhere within the city between Rottingdean and Shoreham. I’d cycle.
    I’m sure you’d be fine.
    Best wishes
    Alan in Whichelo

    • Alan I’m grateful for your response but your are hardly representative of the vast number of people in the area. Just look at the houses many of which will have cars.
      Hanover st has for years been the free carpark. All of the non residents that have parked have come from somewhere. Some of those people might even be living in the Hanover area.

      I put the question to myself. If I lived in Queens Park Road I would definitely drive down to Hanover St and park there legally far free. From there my wife could just about make it to the bus stop at the level but no further. There we could bus into central brighton to get to M&S. The return journey would be waiting for us to get up Southover St.
      Definitely I would do so without understanding how I would be helping to block parking spaces in Hanover St.

      Just look at the map – vast numbers of people would catch onto what would be to many a FREE CAR PARK again. And I would have to pay the £150 or else I would not be able to park in hanover at all.
      No leaving the car at home and getting on my bike would not work for us!

      • Blimey! Seriously? You would drive a car from Queen’s Park Road to Hanover Street? I think neither of us are typical then! Apologies for being flippant if you have any mobility problems, in which case it would be perfectly reasonable. Nice talking to you anyway.
        Cheers. Alan.

      • I wonder why you think you are the arbiter of what is ‘reasonable’ and what is not. So perhaps now you might see that we are ALL different. And we will all determine for ourselves what is reasonable.
        What percentage of people living in Hanover would be capable of walking from Hanover St up to Queens Park Rd? Or to any of the far reaches of Hanover and perhaps consider carefully before sniggering at other people’s disabilities of body or mind and how they might try to make life easier for themselves.
        On your bike Alan!

  5. So this is a revenue generating exercise to cover cost of concessionary bus travel? As I see it those who qualify for free bus travel are simply travelling on scheduled services that would run regardless. Perhaps the council should look to renegotiate the terms by which subsidies are paid as I would suggest they are currently too high.

    • I think it’s mainly about traffic management and sharing out scarce space. But in any case they can’t negotiate the terms. It’s not so much about subsidised routes. It’s the fact they are legally required to provide 46,000 bus passes by the government. The alternative is either a huge increase in council tax or huge cuts to other services. Bear in mind nearly half the households in Hanover who don’t have a car might not like those alternatives. It’s hard to please everyone on this, I suppose.

      • So is it the cost of 46,000 bus passes that is fixed or does the number of journeys come into it? Also why is it that they can’t re-negotiate the terms? If central government sets targets then surely they should be providing some subsidy to ensure they are met or listening to feedback if costs are excessive?

      • Dunno why George. Will try to find out. Central government used to pay most or all of bus passes I believe. But they’ve shifted the main funding responsibilty onto councils. So they’re not going to suddenly change their minds. Nationally the cost would be vast. The fact is the councill has to supply the passes. Negotiating with government will not work. So it’s parking revenue, or council tax rises so huge we’d legally need a referendum (which would definitely turn down the required 10 per cent rise) or cuts in services. I don’t think most people grasp the sheer scale of funding reductions councils are facing these days. It’s maybe worth a jolly old Google. All the best. Alan.

  6. Yes happy new year to you too, Ron 🙂 I’m not claiming to be an arbiter. This is a discussion forum. People are giving their views, not their arbitrations. To be clear, I think disabled people should be allowed to park and drive wherever they need. As someone who spends much time driving his disabled dad about with his Blue Badge, I’m unlikely to be found sniggering at disabled people. But the fact is most disabled people don’t have access to a car – 60 per cent don’t, according to this, compared to 27 per cent of the population at large….
    http://www.papworthtrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/Facts%20and%20Figures%202013%20web.pdf
    So, if you’ll forgive me expressing a view, I reckon the current chaotic situation in Hanover brings more problems for disabled people than it does benefits. I’m guessing parking for disabled residents and disabled visitors to the area could be improved if there was better managed parking. I’m guessing it would be easier to park my dad in an area with residents’ parking than it would be to park him today in Hanover.

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