People power wins the day

We've done it ' Julie Grant of Butters workwear and outdoor leisure shop, and Pete Williams, of The Punchbowl pub, hold up their petitions in New Road, Spalding to celebrate councillors voting against pay parking on South Holland's streets. Picture TIM WILSON SG290611-112TW
We've done it ' Julie Grant of Butters workwear and outdoor leisure shop, and Pete Williams, of The Punchbowl pub, hold up their petitions in New Road, Spalding to celebrate councillors voting against pay parking on South Holland's streets. Picture TIM WILSON SG290611-112TW
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CAMPAIGNERS against the introduction of pay and display meters on town centre streets are “over the moon” that common sense has prevailed.

County councillors voted against the proposal which would have been introduced to help make up a £1.2m shortfall a year in funding for enforcing parking restrictions.

Lincolnshire County Council is due to take over Civil Parking Enforcement responsibilities from the police next summer.

But traders in towns across South Holland were quick to mobilise a campaign after we reported the plan in the Lincolnshire Free Press last week, fearing pay and display would deter shoppers and spell disaster for town centres.

The proposal would have meant shoppers would be forced to pay to park in areas of town centres where there is currently limited time waiting, such as New Road, Sheep Market and The Crescent in Spalding.

Spalding businessman Pete Williams, landlord of the Punchbowl in New Road, said: “We are absolutely over the moon.

“It means we haven’t got to go to ridiculous lengths to be heard and that they have sat up and listened to what people are saying. This is a victory for common sense.”

Mr Williams said if the pay and display had gone ahead, he had hoped that campaigners from South Holland’s towns would have joined forces with those from other towns across Lincolnshire in a mass protest to express their anger.

And he gave credit for Spalding’s campaign to the Chamber of Commerce and particularly Julie Grant, partner in Butters workwear and outdoor leisure shop in New Road.

Within hours of hearing of the plans, she had started distributing a shoppers’ survey to independent businesses within the town centre to get an insight into people’s views.

Within 24 hours hundreds of people had signed the questionnaire opposing pay and display.

She said: “I am obviously very pleased they have decided not to pursue pay and display and my understanding is that they made that decision due to the strong opposition from the whole of the county.

“I took these surveys to 47 businesses and I still plan to collect them in at the end of the week because I don’t think this thing is over yet.

“The council still needs to find a way of raising £1.2m a year, but I hope they have seen sense and will now look at other ways of funding parking enforcement officers.”

Jason Rooke, president of the Chamber, says the issue of parking enforcement will be discussed at the group’s AGM next week, but said members are in agreement that enforcement of limited waiting times is necessary to prevent motorists abusing the system and clogging up spaces intended to allow shoppers to just make a brief visit to shops.

The decision was also heralded as great news by David Pateman, chairman of Long Sutton Business and Traders’ Association, who said: “We are elated. We started a petition last Friday and by lunchtime we had over 1,000 signatures opposed to pay and display parking.

“We also called a special meeting last Thursday because so many people felt so strongly about it and more than 100 people turned up.

“At that meeting we all said that although we all had our own businesses to run we would all work together in the best interests of Long Sutton.”

Coun William Webb, county council executive member for Highways and Transport, said: “While other councils in the country are funding their new Civil Parking Enforcement responsibility via pay and display, we fully accept the committee’s decision and understand the concerns about implementing this in Lincolnshire.

“However the county council still needs to find £1.2m each year to run CPE. Potential income from fines is only estimated to recoup less than two-thirds of that, so pay and display had been calculated to provide the difference. We now need to find this remainder from elsewhere.”