We’ve previously mentioned the borough council’s proposal to operate a skating rink and market on the London Road Recreation Ground this Christmas. One of the major issues to resolve is, of course, parking. Not least, there isn’t any! Well, nothing suitable in the recreation ground, anyway. And there’s virtually no on-street parking locally either.
So, to encourage skaters – and others visiting the market – to use the council’s town centre car parks, these will be free to those concerned. Some whizzy technology will be employed. The idea is that when skaters arrive, they will give their car number plate to an attendant, who will enter the details into an iPad. By the miracles of science (well, via an internet link, we imagine) the car park computer will be programmed to allow the car concerned to leave the car park ‘for free’.
At least, that’s the idea. But what about the implementation? First question – how long can a skater park without charge? Since the hope is that skaters will spend some time (and money) in the town, as well as skate, they’ll be encouraged to stay for several hours. Several hours of free parking? At Christmas? Or, if they only park for the hour or so that it takes to skate, should they qualify for free parking when serious shoppers, who are probably spending far more in the town than the price of a skating ticket, have to pay? And can the town centre car parks cope with any extra demand?
All of which is a preamble to our long-standing gripe. In spite of the pressure on parking at Christmas time, the council really doesn’t do everything possible to speed the flow of traffic into Main Square car park. As you may know, it’s possible to log into the council’s website and find out how many empty spaces there are, but drivers who arrive at the entry barriers – who really need the information – are kept in the dark. All they see is a sign saying ‘SPACE’. Which could mean just one remaining space. So it’s perfectly understandable that incoming drivers don’t move smartly up the car park. They linger by any parked car whose occupants look as if they might be about to leave. The whole place then grinds to a halt.
Unless and until the council provides drivers with more meaningful information, any claims that it’s doing its best to resolve Christmas parking and traffic problems will be hollow. Telling drivers that there are lots of empty spaces – as, usually, there are – should help!