U-turn on on-street parking policy thanks to Bridport people power

Bridport and Lyme Regis News

DORSET County Council has agreed to re-think its on-street parking policy.

Such was the strength of the opposition - and the arguments - put forward by Bridport that councillors at Tuesday's environment overview committee agreed to go away and think again.

The Bridport-News backed campaign has seen a petition nearing 6000 names against the introduction of parking metres and the start of an evidence-gathering parking survey on use of the free one-hour street parking.

MP Oliver Letwin also wrote backing Bridport's opposition.

Coun Kayes, along with town councillors Dave Rickard and Sarah Williams, argued at the committee that a 'one-size fits all policy' wouldn't work in Bridport.

Now members of Dorset County Council have called for a county-wide review instead of putting forward a proposal to consult on schemes in Bridport and Lyme Regis.

Coun Kayes said: "It is really good news that it is going to be re-considered.

"Every single councillor on the committee supported the idea of re-drawing the policy.

"The overall policy is clearly out of date because it is based on research that was done in the noughties. There is more recent research suggesting it is damaging to towns."

She said 50 percent of the parking revenue in Dorchester came from fines so clearly metres were also about boosting revenue.

She said: "We can't be complacent and we still need people to fill in the surveys because the officers will come back with a hard and fast financial argument that they need that revenue.

"We have got to say it is Dorset County Council's responsibility to maintain the health of our town centres as much as it is to make their own money.

"Our survey is proving that people in Bridport won't shop here, they will go to supermarkets.

"These are all people who park for about 20 minutes and spend between £10 and £50 in local shops."

"I was surprised that they wanted to do a review of the whole county but they listened to our evidence and thought it was so concerning that they decided to review it across the county.

"It is a good sign that it was cross party so I am very positive but I am not going to celebrate before the ink dries."

Miles Butler, county council director of environment told members of the committee there was evidence in Dorchester and Swanage to show pay and display parking could have a positive impact on the local economy.

He said metres ensured a greater turnover of visitors and prevented people driving round looking for free spaces.

After hearing from the speakers, Coun Ronald Coatsworth asked for an amendment to the recommendation, which had proposed a consultation on pay and display schemes in Bridport in Lyme Regis.

He suggested instead the committee should ask the council's cabinet to review its policy in the light of the local and national economic situation.

Coun Coatsworth's amended recommendation was backed by the rest of the committee.

Committee chairman Robin Cook said: "We need to look at this in a much more measured way for an overall perspective of where we are with parking within our towns."

The petition and survey are available in the News' office in East Street.