Keep free on street parking for our town centres

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Parking should continue to be free for those who want to visit and shop in our town centres.

Free time-limited on street parking in the centre of Folkestone, Sandgate, Hythe and New Romney – as it is now – encourages people to use and support local businesses at a time when they are recovering from the economic downturn.

That’s my response to Shepway District Council’s proposed parking strategy, which sets out plans to introduce varying levels of charges to free up spaces and encourage greater use of off-street car parks by lowering the costs of using them. Over the last week I have discussed my concerns in detail with the Leader, Cllr Robert Bliss and other members of Shepway council and they have assured me that they will be given full and serious consideration as part of the consultation.

I believe it is vitally important for our local economy for people to be able to drive into and park freely on the street in the centre of our towns, without having to worry about charges and the inconvenience of getting a ticket.

The council does need to address the issue of residents being unable to park close to their homes and to encourage greater turnover of vehicles in the town centres, but this should not be at the expense of our high street shops.

If you need to go into town to quickly pick up some shopping and run a few errands, then that should be encouraged.

People are understandably concerned about what some of the unintended consequences of these proposals might be and I would encourage everyone to respond by taking part in the public consultation.

Shepway District Council will be rolling out their public consultation programme from January, details of which will be announced. If approved the scheme would be launched in three phases, with the first in Folkestone from April 2012.

You can find out more and have your say by visiting http://www.shepway.gov.uk/content/view/201282/235/

Local residents who regularly use Shepway’s car parks should also take advantage of the parking permit that lets you park for up to three hours a day every day of only £1 per week. Again you can find out more about this in the parking section of the council’s website.

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