18th March 2022
Blandford Forum Town Council is opposed to the new proposals and has submitted the following letter to Dorset Council.
Traffic Regulation Order Team
Response to ‘The Dorset Council (Off Street Parking) (Consolidation) order 20’
From: Blandford Forum Town Council.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the above order.
Whilst our Council remains in principle in favour of the tiering system, general rationalisation of charges across the County and also the rationalisation of the permit scheme, there are some aspects, detailed below, that we, as a Council and working on behalf of the wider Blandford community, remain opposed to.
In our response on 09/09/2021we submitted the following:
‘Although again alleviated by the permit scheme, the sudden increase of approximately 300% on the current charges in Blandford Forum for long-stay parking, on a daily basis, will only increase the pressure on residential streets and will act as a disincentive to use the car parks. There will inevitably be an increase in street pollution from the overall increase in residential on-street parking and whilst residents search for ever-decreasing parking spaces. This would appear self-evident.
We continue to support this position and respectfully ask that the all-day levy, with a leap of over 300% on current charges be urgently reviewed with a view to reduction to a more modest increase perhaps stepped annually to avoid the sudden large increase. However, we believe at the moment that any increase in parking fees will have an adverse and detrimental effect on recovery of local businesses in the current economic climate, exacerbated as it is by the current ( and likely future) high fuel prices. Phased in after a moratorium, a gradual introduction of charges could help both the residents who wish to park and to ensure income for car parking. Because the environs of Blandford are poorly served by public transport, perhaps a similar levy to park and ride schemes could be considered?
Even with the new flexible permit scheme any increases, will fall on people such as shop workers and charity workers many of whom are trying to survive on minimum wages or are volunteering their time for no payment.
For this and other reasons detailed below, BFTC are strongly opposed to the introduction of any parking charges in the Stour Meadows car park and urges the Traffic Regulation Order Team, in consultation with the Councillor responsible and the Cabinet, to review this with a view to abandoning the charges. Charges were introduced in this car park by NDDC and abandoned after a few months.
The introduction did then, and will again cause an overloading of vehicles on local roads of members of the community who simply wish to walk their dogs for an hour or who would prefer to walk into town – this includes tourists.
Free parking offers an incentive to motorists not to cruise around the town and through the centre looking for diminishing parking spaces. BFTC are keen to address both traffic flow and vehicular pollution in the town centre. (Para 5.53 B+ Neighbourhood Plan (2021). Introducing charges in the Stour Meadows car park, will lead to an increase in both.
Free parking here encourages walking and exercise – in the meadows themselves, in the skate park (parents often bring young children during the day) and on the outside multi gym.
Parking charges will act as a disincentive to visit the town and will materially affect the town’s ability to recover from the pandemic. Blandford, although attracting some visitors, does not have the attractions’ ‘draw’ of Weymouth, Dorchester, Lyme Regis or Bridport. Up until now Blandford has at least been able to offer some free parking as a small, incentive to visit. Remove that and the vitality of the town suffers.
Other than gaining some extra revenue, it’s difficult to see the justification for this and we urge the Traffic Regulation Order Team and Councillor responsible to visit Blandford and talk to local councillors and local people.
With these points in mind, we urge you to abandon the introduction of parking charges in the Stour Meadows car park.
‘Charges’ 4 b) If a Parking Place which is subject to Pay and Display charges has no Ticket Machine or, where such payments are accepted, shall pay the parking charge via mobile phone.
BFTC believes that the TROT should ensure that all parking areas under such regulation should be covered by machines – the reg. (b) discriminates against people who do not posses smart phones, or are not technically competent. The regulation could also result in drivers travelling around an area searching for other places to park, in turn leading to additional congestion and pollution.
In our response to the permit scheme BFTC stated:
‘We also request that DC look carefully at the possibility of amending the permit scheme to allow families to use one permit on more than one car. We feel that if there are two or more people in one family each with a vehicle that this would be an over burdensome cost and a disincentive to purchase a permit. We suggest either a family permit or record two number plates on one permit.’
Whilst understanding the need for both rationalisation of the permit scheme and some simplicity we reiterate this position but request a modification. We pass on a concern from the Blandford ‘Disability Acton Group’ who, like many other charities in Blandford, rely on a volunteer work force, and asks for the continuance of a multi-car permit: which can be used by more than one person and more than one vehicle.
‘Permits which can be used on more than one car would also be of great benefit to local charities (shops and offices) who reimburse their volunteers when they need to park for just one shift of often just over four hours a week – one volunteer a day being equivalent to five or six per week. In the past a permit was issued to the charity which could then be passed from one volunteer to another.’ (Blandford DAG 15/03/2022)
We ask that you give serious consideration to this suggested modification.
The vitality of Blandford, like all other towns, relies on many factors. Car parking charges are one of them. We are not a ‘prosperous’ community and there being, ipso facto, poor and infrequent public transport, the town relies on people from the large estates on the outskirts of the town as well as people from nearby villages to visit the town in private vehicles, to maintain what vitality we have and to help generate recovery after the recent pandemic.
The National Planning Policy Framework states:
Para. 86. ‘Planning policies and decisions should support the role that town centres play at the heart of local communities, by taking a positive approach to their growth, management and adaptation’.
(a) ‘define a network and hierarchy of town centres and promote their long-term vitality and viability – by allowing them to grow and diversify in a way that can respond to rapid changes in the retail and leisure industries…..’
The decision to increase charges at this time and to take away the only large free car park Blandford has will have a detrimental effect on this recovery and indeed could contribute to the current decline.
Blandford Forum Town Council asks the Traffic Regulation Order Team, to reconsider these proposals.
Cllr. Roger Carter (On behalf of BFTC)
28th March 2022
Response to the above letter received from Dorset Council.
Dear Cllr. Carter,
Thank you for your detailed response to The Dorset Council (Off Street Parking) Consolidation Order.
The all day charge has already been accepted by Cabinet and has completed the legal consultation period, hence it will not be altered at this time. Of course, the impact of these charges will be monitored and changes made if necessary.
Following the response to the Off Street Order and in appreciation to the value of Stour Meadows car park to the local community, Cllr Ray Bryan (Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment), has made the decision to reduce the charges in Stour Meadows car park so this will now be charged the same as the level 1 car parks. The revised tariff is:
|30 minutes||1 hour||2 hours||3 hours||4 hours||10 hours|
Again, the impact of these charges will be monitored and changes made if necessary.
Currently, our car parks have pay & display machines that accept cash, some have contactless, Pay by Phone and Just Park. Section 4b) is for situations where a machine has temporarily gone out of service. We are planning to replace all of our pay & display machines this year, the new machines will accept cash, contactless, Google/Apple Pay, Pay by Phone and we will be retaining Just Park.
We are currently looking at solutions for volunteers of charities.
Last modified: March 28, 2022