RESIDENTS of Southsea have given a mixed reaction to the reinstating of street parking permits.
Two new parking zones have been introduced south of Goldsmith Avenue and north of Albert Road.
Portsmouth City Council has said it is hoped the new zones will make it easier for residents to park near their homes.
The new zones have been controversial, and here reporter Neil Fatkin speaks to residents, businesses and the council about the scheme.
An ongoing issue
The issue of parking permits has been a perennial topic of contention for residents in and around Orchard Road (the MB zone) and Bramble Road (MC zone) since they were abolished in 2015.
The Lib Dems pledged as part of their manifesto to reinstate a permit system if they were elected to the council and after their success in the last council election set about fulfilling this promise, carrying out a survey to gauge the views of residents.
Speaking at the time, Cllr Ben Dowling said: ‘During the election in May we made clear we believed certain zones were taken away undemocratically, specifically MB and MC. We said we would bring back those zones. I think there is clear evidence that residents overwhelmingly support bringing back MB and MC permit zones. We think the figures from our survey display that the zones are needed and they should not have been removed.’
After a series of meetings the decision was taken in October 2018 to reinstate the parking permits with the regulation coming into force on Wednesday this week.
As a result, homeowners in MB and MC need to purchase permits to park between the hours of 4pm to 6pm and 5pm to 7pm respectively.
While generally welcoming the principle behind the permit system the current format is not universally popular.
What a business fears
While it is hoped the parking permits will benefit local residents the new restrictions could be potentially damaging to local businesses who depend on the surrounding area for customer parking and to park work-related vehicles.
Steve Noaks, who uses the area around his garage workshop to park customer vehicles, feels the new permit system could prove terminal to his ‘Bugs and Buses’ business.
‘My business permit allows me to park four vehicles up to 6pm but I can’t purchase a residents permit to cover the additional hour until 7pm. I also can’t get a permit to park vehicles on a Sunday which is a day when customers will often drop their vehicles off. We have spoken to the council and it has simply said it doesn’t want businesses operating in the evening. The council is trying to drive us out even though there has been a garage here for nearly 100 years,’ said Mr Noaks.
What the residents think
Orchard Road resident Matt Coom believes the move is step in the right direction but has questioned why the zone is not given parity with the parking restrictions operating in other parts of the city.
‘We have had a major issue with parking around our homes for some time,’ said Mr Coom. ‘Our close proximity to the railway station means commuters will often leave their cars here rather than pay parking fees. Teachers and parents at the local school will also use the area for parking. My wife is delighted as she is a nurse and often can’t find anywhere to park when she returns home from work. However I still don’t understand why our permits are different to other parts of the city where you need a permit to park for the full duration of the day.’
Fellow Orchard Road resident, John Kelly, is also pleased with the reintroduction of the system.
Mr Kelly said: ‘We would sometimes have pick-up trucks left on the street for over a week and one car showroom would even use the streets to store his vehicles. There were times I would have to leave my car in so many different places that if I didn’t have an app on my phone I would never have found it. Hopefully this will help ensure residents can now park close to their homes.’
While happy paying the initial cost of £30 for a permit, Mr Kelly does feel the fee of £100 for a second car and £590 for a third car could be difficult for some residents.
‘I have a neighbour who has three children and they have two family cars. The new scheme will obviously hit people like that,’ he said.
Bramble Road resident Nadzhi Yuseinov also feels this is an unfair additional cost for his family.
‘The permit system is a good things as I would often come home and not be able to find a space,’ he said. ‘I agree with paying £30 for my permit but my mother and brother also have cars. We use them for different reasons and so I don’t think it is fair to have to pay so much extra.’
Despite agreeing with the principle of a parking permit system, a number of residents do not agree with the two-hour time restriction.
Paul Smith, of Francis Avenue, zone MC, said: ‘People work at different hours and so the two-hour slot will not work. In its current format this is just a business tax for the council. I don’t mind paying for a permit and would be happy to do so if it was for 24 hours. Over the other side of Fratton Bridge people pay for permits but that entitles them to a full day period. The council say that residents were consulted but the consultation document basically said it was happening and didn’t really give a choice.’
Despite having reservations, MB resident Judy Smith is willing to give the new system time to see if it works.
‘Overall this is a positive thing. I know residents in other parts of the city who have a similar two hour window and they seem to think this staggered approach does work,’ she explained.
What the council says
The council has responded by explaining that parking restrictions are not universally applied but are implemented according the needs of that location.
Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for transport, Councillor Lynne Stagg, said: 'Each parking zone is designed to address the specific issues residents highlight in their area. Some residents may have experienced difficulty parking at certain times, while some may be affected by tourist attractions, shopping areas or a large employer operating nearby. The residents' parking programme is a rolling programme. It is important that we continue to listen to residents' feedback and monitor parking in residential areas responding to the ever-changing landscape of the city.'