The manager of a Caterham board of businesses believes new parking rules will be a “game-changer” for the high street when changes come in April.
Sue McGeown, of the Caterham Business Improvement District (BID), says the introduction of parking meters and new parking enforcers will encourage more shoppers to visit.
Caterham BID, which represents a range of businesses in Caterham Valley, has tirelessly campaigned for greater parking provision since its formation in April 2017, and made the proposal to pay for the meters.
“The parking meters will be a huge boost for the high street and a real sea change,” Ms McGeown said.
“There are no public car parks here, we only have the ones provided by the supermarkets. Those with young children, disabilities or the elderly do not want to park in Morrisons’ and walk all the way down the high street.”
Ms McGeown has also been critical of the current parking enforcement provided by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council.
A lack of ticketing, information and removing vehicles which have been left for, in some cases, days have been cited as other reasons why parking has been difficult in Caterham.
“Reigate and Banstead have been disappointing and ineffectual in handling the parking enforcement in Caterham, which has had a detrimental effect on economic performance.
“They (Reigate and Banstead) will not give us any information. We have constantly reported vehicles which have obstructed bays, and they remained un-ticketed.
“We would phone Reigate and Banstead and tell them a vehicle has been left here for a number of days, and they will say they came in but were called away.”
Cllr Michael Cooper has echoed the sentiments on the current parking enforcement arrangement, and said Tandridge District Council (TDC) will now be in control of the contract.
“TDC have been given the money and opportunity by Surrey County Council, who are responsible for the parking wardens, to find our own parking enforcement company and we have given a one-year contract to Sevenoaks Council, which will start in April.
“We (TDC) have seen that outside the old post office in Caterham Valley a whole load of people have parked on double yellow lines, almost regularly, and the parking wardens have never done anything about it.
“The statistics on parking we (TDC) have been given, year on year, by Reigate and Banstead didn’t really give us any idea what was happening. We were very disappointed by that.
“We also invite members of Reigate and Banstead to our committee meetings to explain what they were doing. Sometimes they would turn up and sometimes they wouldn’t.”
Reigate and Banstead, who have had the parking contract since 2013, said they made every effort when it came to attending meetings and were not willing to increase resources in Tandridge.
Frank Etheridge, Strategic Head of Neighbourhood Operations, said: “There is no contractual relationship between us and Tandridge. At that time, two Tandridge employees were transferred to Reigate and Banstead Borough Council to cover the district, funded by us.
“In comparison, 11 civil enforcement officers cover Reigate and Banstead. We are not prepared to increase enforcement resources in Tandridge at the expense of our own taxpayers and therefore we will cease parking enforcement provision in Tandridge on 31 March 2020.
“We provide detailed parking statistics to Surrey County Council in the format they require. We always try to attend relevant meetings where we are able to do so.”
In a recent development, subject to further investigation, Reigate and Banstead wardens have not ticketed certain cars due to damaged or ambivalent signage, thus not sufficiently informing drivers of restrictions.
We contacted the Cabinet Minister for Highways and these are his replies to our questions;
1. What do you think of parking meters being installed in Caterham? How do you think it will help local businesses?
Parking meters could help enforce the short stay parking arrangements in Croydon and Godstone Roads. This will mean the bays could turn-over more quickly allowing visitors to find a parking space more often and in turn allow more people to visit local businesses.
2. What would you say to local business owners who have found the parking set-up in Caterham frustrating, and have found it has affected their trade?
The existing one hour parking bays in Caterham are intended to help local businesses, it is a shame that not everyone in the community respects the time limit and so enforcement has to be carried out.
3. Will a traffic order notice be issued? If so, when?
A traffic order amendment will be needed to move to a system whereby parking meters are used to regulate the parking in this location. This is a statutory process and we will need to place a notice in the local paper explaining the changes. This initiates a 28 day consultation/objection period and will start in February.
4. Will the contract for parking in Caterham by awarded to Sevenoaks Council?
Tandridge District Council will have an agreement with Surrey County Council to carry out parking enforcement in the district from April 2020. They plan to use parking services provided by Sevenoaks District Council who currently enforce their off-street car parks.
5. What are your thoughts on how Reigate and Banstead Council have managed the parking provision in Caterham?
Reigate and Banstead have a provided a consistent parking enforcement service in Tandridge for a number of years but I am pleased that Tandridge now wish to be more involved in providing this service in the their area.
Cabinet Member for Highways