Parking Charges in Weybridge Car Parks
As I talk to people around Weybridge about our car parks I recognize that there are many different views – many of them conflicting. On the one hand I am told that parking charges are too high and that is why workers and shoppers are parking in our streets – therefore the car parks should be free. On the other hand other tell me that the charges are too under-priced because many times the car parks and by charging the market rate a surplus would be built up which could be used to build a multi-storey car park.
Many of us who have lived here for decades will remember when parking in Churchfields was free and you could get a place at any time in the day. Over time, however, Churchfields became full. Assuming one agrees that if arrives at a car park it should always offer a space then there are two main solutions: restrict the length of time drivers may park; or, bring in parking charges. Indeed there can be a mixture of both.
If the main concern is to maintain a free car park yet still always have a space available then the length of stay might have to be reduced to half an hour or less at peak times. Only experience of reducing the the length of stay would demonstrate how short that time should be at peak times. The downside is, of course, that the car park would be paid for out of council tax. This would mean that those who walk or cycle to the shops would be subsidizing those who drive.
If the main concern is to maximize the availability of car parking space then the charge should reflect the demand and increase accordingly at the peak times and any surplus would be used to increase the availability of parking spaces by by providing more car parks or building a multi-storey car park. The downside of this is that the current Conservative administration in Elmbridge has not used the surplus to provide extra car parking but used it to subsidize the council tax. Also it is one thing to have the money to build a multi-storey car park but where would one build it?
A compromise could be to charge a little to cover the cost of provision but, once that is done, ration the places by reducing the length of time a driver could stay at peak times. This would still mean that at peak times the length of stay could be very short.
Park and ride system for Weybridge workers
This option is often mentioned. Let us imagine that we build a long stay car park on the Heath, Broadwater Farm or Wey Meadows and provide a frequent bus service to the town centre – assuming that drivers would not walk from their car to the town. This proposal has merit to it but we have to consider whether: planning permission could be gained, given that these sites are currently protected; how they would be funded; and, most importantly, whether drivers would use them unless all the streets in the centre of Weybridge had restricted parking. Effectively, I would think that all streets would have to have residents and shopper only parking otherwise the long stay car parks would not be used. What do you think?
Multi-storey Car Park at Churchfields.
One of our fellow burghers recently told me that Weybridge has insufficient public parking space and more space should be created – not the first person to do so by any means.
And added that there should be a substantial reduction in car parking fees so that people coming to work in Weybridge can afford to use public car parks. And went on that the daily cost of parking is unaffordable for the average worker. What about creating a further layer of parking under the Churchfields car park? I know this would be expensive but very little money has been invested in this town in recent years.
Elmbridge makes a surplus of just under £2.5 million pounds a year – half a million of which comes from Weybridge.