All Hampshire street parking to be managed by county council after controversial decision

CONTROVERSIAL plans to centralise on-street parking with the county council have been approved.

Thursday, 10th March 2022, 5:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2022, 5:15 pm

Since October, Hampshire County Council has been discussing the potential to bring all street parking in-house, after claiming that district management is no longer financially viable.

The county council reported that the districts managing on-street parking, including Havant, East Hampshire, Winchester and Basingstoke, are operating at a deficit, and claimed that centralising this would be more efficient.

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All street parking in Hampshire will be managed by the county council. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

At Cllr Russell Oppenheimer’s highways operations decision day on Thursday afternoon, the plans were given the green light.

He said: ‘The advice I have been given is sound advice and in the interest of residents, who want an efficient parking service.

‘I believe the team has shared the right level of information and detail - we don't want to point fingers at districts or release confidential financial information.

'We cannot lose sight of the bigger picture. We have a backlog of highway maintenance work and need to channel resources into that.'

At a select committee meeting on Thursday morning, councillors raised concerns about staff levels, the effectiveness of a central service and whether this is even needed.

Adrian Gray, head of highways, said: ‘This move will create a single countywide parking service across all districts, taking back all services over an 18-month period.

‘There are several reasons for this decision. The county council directly managing the parking service is shown to be more efficient and will secure the most cost-effective service long-term.

‘This is the best opportunity for a resilient, effective and modern on-street parking service across Hampshire.’

Mr Gray's methodology and claims that districts were not operating efficiently were heavily criticised by councillors across the political spectrum, and voted against approving the proposals.

The final decision was ultimately made by Cllr Oppenheimer at his decision day meeting.

Conservative member for Purbrook and Stakes South, Cllr Gary Hughes, said: ‘I have an abundance of questions on this report - not so much about what's in the report as what is not in it.

‘I have been told that some services in districts are actually cost neutral to the county council, rather than creating a deficit.

‘I’m not against this proposal but I want to make a properly-informed decision.’

Cllr Martin Tod, Liberal Democrat spokesman for economy, transport and environment, added: 'This paper is remarkably thin in terms of detail.

'You [Adrian Gray] have not explained how it will be more efficient, or what happens to staff or what happens to the revenue.'

Mr Gray replied stating that civil enforcement officers currently working for district councils will be offered a transfer, and vacancies will be advertised where employees decline the offer.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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