Tonight I attended the council’s Sustainable Environment committeeto listen to reports on a number of issues affecting local residents, One of these was the suggestion that the council start charging for car parking in all local shopping area. To be fair, council officers brought forward the suggestion in response to councillors’ requests that all possible sources of savings be considered, but I believe that such charges would be short-sighted in the extreme.
Three Rivers comprises a number of small, but thriving communities, including Abbots Langley, Rickmansworth, Croxley Green, South Oxhey and Chorleywood. Of these, Abbots Langley is the only one not to have a station in its shopping area and also does not have any major employers in the village. We don’t have large chain stores or bustling nightlife, but what Abbots Langley does have is a range of facilities that serve residents on a day to day basis, cutting down on time and fuel.
We don’t generally have a parking problem around the village. There are small areas where parking from outside, from residents of nearby flats, shopkeepers or commuters is seen as a nuisance to local residents, but these need small local solutions. Two years ago, when residents of Marlin Square, Langley Road and Breakspeare Road were offered a residents’ parking scheme, they overwhelmingly rejected it.
If the council starts to charge for car parking in the Abbots Road car park (behind the shops), the knock on effects will be huge. If people have to pay for parking, they may choose to shop elsewhere, either where parking is free (such as at Tesco in the privately-owned Katherine Place) or where there are more shops available for the parking charge. Shopkeepers will be faced with large charges to park all day and may choose to park in residential streets where there is already a shortage of parking for residents. The nu mber of shops in the village will dop as some inevitably close, thus reducing the strength, vitality and viability of the village and its community.
In order to prevent local streets simply becoming free car parks where residents struggle to park, residents’ parking schemes would have to be introduced in many local roads within walking distance of the village. This not only means a cost to residents, but also unsightly posts and signs and a reduction in he amount of parking available, as cars would only be allowed to park in marked bays. Other organisations, such as the Parish Council and local churches, would be forced to police their own car parks and maybe introduce charges to ensure that they were not filled with displaced parking.
There is no economic or environmental reason for introducing parking charges within Abbots Langley. Such charges would lowe the quality of life for residents and reduce the ability of local businesses to remain open in the current economic climate. I am delighted that the committee chose to reject the charges and keep the existing situation of free parking within the village.