The Committee noted that the proposed changes to parking fees and charging processes would not be applied to the car park at Sundridge Park.
A statement was read out from Cllr Alison Stammers expressing concern that the proposals in the report would have a detrimental impact on residents and businesses. She said that herself and ward colleagues had been inundated with emails urging resistance to the removal of pay and display machines. She highlighted problems with the App and with internet access and the fact that a high percentage of transactions were still being processed using cash. She expressed the view that given the impact of the proposals, there should have been a process of consultation beforehand. She requested therefore that the decision be deferred to allow time for a Boroughwide consultation, or if that was not feasible, time for Ward Councillors to consult with residents and businesses in their respective wards.
The motion for a deferral from Cllr Stammers was seconded by Cllr Ireland. A Member said that she would like to see more work undertaken on the Equality Impact Assessment before progressing any further with the proposals.
Biggin Hill Ward Councillors Melanie Stevens and Sophie Dunbar requested that the following statement be noted in the minutes:
‘We totally oppose the recommendations to implement paid parking bays on Main Road Biggin Hill. To implement would be the death of a very tangible, but struggling “High Street” following Covid, the rise in rent and cost of living. It would result in further retail space being converted into residential dwellings, forcing local residents to travel to shop!
The Main Road of Biggin Hill is populated by businesses to the west side and residential properties to the east.
The free on street waiting bays are located mainly to the shop side of the Main Road with half a dozen being to the residential side.
Most businesses, (83%,) are independent traders which include barbers, beauty & hair salons, florists, card & stationery outlet, post office, convenience stores, food & alcohol retailers, opticians, printing & art design, gift & homewares, butchers, and dry cleaners. None of these have off street free parking and rely on the parking waiting bays for passing trade which they rely on to stop and visit their shops.
We have not received any complaints from any shop owners that the waiting bays are abused and any vehicles outstaying their time. They comment on how it increases the footfall and is vital to the ongoing success of their business.
The remaining 9% is made up of major supermarket retailers, homeware and food outlets, all with behind store off street free parking facilities.
There is always ample parking within these car parks. The danger of making the on street free waiting bays into paid bays is that shoppers will park to the rear of the major chains and then fail to exit onto the Main Road and shop at the independent retailers.
In the last 18 months, 2% of retail space has been converted into residential flats; this is due to Covid, high rents and a lack of desire from retailers to take the space.
2 % of retail space, which at the present time is still within the planning system, which we envisage, will be converted into residential flats if again this space cannot be let.
3 % is owned and run by the local church providing limited, controlled off street, free parking.
1 % is the local police station, with dedicated police parking bays.
The last bank in Biggin Hill, (Barclays) has just closed, leaving 2 retail units empty for rent.
We personally know many of the landlords renting retail space and they have all expressed concern, along with shop owners of the cost of living, the change in the shopping experience, on line, click and collect and the need for all to economise.
If fee paid parking is introduced into the Main Road of Biggin Hill, we foresee a downturn in passing trade for the small independent shopkeepers resulting in closure, properties turned into residential flats, leaving only the major chain stores who will not be affected a they have their own free parking facilities for their customers.
We as local ward councillors, believe that our residents should have the choice to use independent retailers and have the choice to put food on another families table, pay for a child’s swimming lessons, each supporting each other so that our residents are able to lead independent lives, alongside bustling retail giants’
There was some concern expressed by Members that the removal of the cash parking machines may adversely affect the elderly who may have difficulties adjusting to new technologies and who therefore could become more isolated.
Members noted this was the third tranche of trials, two having already been undertaken. It was noted that so far 102 cash machines had been removed and 131 remained. The Head of Service, Shared Parking Services (Bromley and Bexley), reported that there had been no formal complaints received and no drop off in usage. In terms of a communications campaign, various notices and posters would be provided at various sites and offered for officers to attend in person to assist the public.
The Head of Service, Shared Parking Services (Bromley and Bexley), commented that the cash machines would become more difficult to manage, because going forward (with the expiry of 3g technology) it would be difficult to know which cash machines had money in them, which were in a state of disrepair and which machines had actually been broken into and the cash stolen.
A Member expressed the view that the Council should take advantage of this opportunity to be a progressive Council and make savings. The Ringo Contract Manager had promised to help with the implementation of the project and officers were confident that the public would end up with a better service.
The Chairman said that he would ask Ringo to attend the PDS Committee if there were problems with the service. A Member suggested that Ringo should be asked to come in first.
Cllr Stammers (following up on her initial statement to the Committee) responded and said that she understood the arguments in favour of Ringo, but asked for a phased implementation to reduce the impact on the elderly and vulnerable.
The Assistant Director for Traffic and Parking said that Apcoa were due to present to the Committee in January and it was possible that Ringo could be asked to co-present with them. The Chairman thought this was a good idea.
There was a mixed response overall to the proposals, some Members felt the proposals were ‘too much too soon’, would affect the elderly and vulnerable and lose parking revenue, reduce spending power and footfall. Others felt that it was the correct way forward, and would avoid spending on outdated technology and would save the Council money.
The Portfolio Holder for Highways, Traffic and Road Safety pointed out that elderly people drove cars, they taxed. insured and MOTed them, and paid the Congestion Charge if required. He said that a ‘smart’ phone was not required. Buses were cashless. He said that the Council had to make a choice and could not go down the hybrid root. He said the adoption of the Ringo technology would be accompanied by various public campaigns, leaflets in libraries and supermarkets, signs in offices, in car parks etc. He reminded the Committee that the existing chips would not work after April. In his view the Committee should agree the recommendations of the report.
Councillor Stammers motioned to defer the recommendations which was seconded by Councillor Ireland--this motion was defeated by six votes to four.
The Assistant Director for Traffic and Parking read out a statement from Councillor Jefferys. Councillor Jefferys had referenced the Crown Lane Car Park and if a season ticket scheme could be used there.
The Portfolio Holder for Traffic, Highways and Road Safety referenced Sundridge Park Car Park and said that he had received representations with respect to this car park from the Leader of the Council (Councillor Colin Smith) Councillor Alisa Igoe and Councillor Tony McPartlan. He thanked them for their representations which were noted.
Members discussed the revised fees for parking charges and residential parking permits.
The Portfolio Holder pointed out that it had been four years since Bromley had increased its parking fees. It was expected that in the future, a review of the parking fees would take place every two years. The Portfolio Holder commented that Bromley’s charges were probably the least in London.
There was a vote on whether or not to accept the recommendations in the report; this was motioned by Councillor Fawthrop and seconded by Councillor Tickner. It was agreed that the Portfolio Holder should be recommended to accept the recommendations in the report with the exception of Sundridge Park.
RESOLVED that the Portfolio Holder for Traffic, Highways and Road Safety be recommended to agree the following:
· The proposed tariff increases of 20p to all on and off-street parking locations, as set out in section 3 and appendix one.
· The proposed tariff review timescale being changed to every 2 years as set out in section 3.
· The proposed tariff charges for The Civic Offices car park as set out in section 4.
· The proposed changes to The Hill car park as set out in section 5.
· The proposed evening tariff in Mitre Close as set out in section 6
· The proposed implementation of tariffs in the existing free on and off-street parking places as detailed in section 7
· The proposed permit charges as set out in section 8.
· The proposal to accelerate the removal of all pay and display machines across the Borough as set out in section 9.