Sunday, May 06, 2018

The wisdom of Highland Council's " Highland Parking with Purpose" document that is the blueprint for parking charges

We've been having a look at the Highland Council parking strategy that is contained in a document that Highland Councillors had a look at this week. Here's what we think so far and more to come if time permits.

The  " Highland Parking with purpose" document states on Page 9:

"The introduction of parking charges is viewed as deeply unpopular. This includes the perception that there will be a detrimental effect on local businesses leading to a relocation of economic activity from town centres to out-of-town retail outlets.

However there are wider local and community benefits from good parking management such as:

• Enabling local traffic management

• Supporting local economic activity

• Enhanced visitor / tourist access provision

• Improved access to local services"

Well how about the effect of displacement of parking problems into other areas of the town? The cost or inspection and inforcement? If you were coming to Nairn for the day, why not simply avoid the parking charges by parking in Viewfield, Manse Road say or Albert Street or anywhere else that you can find that doesn't cost. It is simply human nature to avoid parking charges and parts of the town that have been problem free up to now will suffer as a result of Highland Council policy. 

And just how do you support economic activity by discouraging tourists and other visitors? To this observer the perception that damage will be done is correct. 

And further down page nine we have some "findings" including:

"Our roads and streets are increasingly clogged by traffic and parked vehicles. The effects are  everywhere throughout our region but nowhere more obvious than in centres of population or where tourism is prevalent."

Right then so free parking causes congestion? The only thing causing congestion in Nairn is the level of traffic on the A96. Sometimes it can take you a minute or two to find a parking space in the town centre, it can be busy but not congested.  Take Inverness where there are plenty of parking charges, you still have congestion and far worse than Nairn too. Sorry Highland Council but we are being offered a solution to a problem that doesn't exist in Nairn town centre. 

And a bit more:

"Some stakeholders envisage a future with less traffic that would allow more space for people to enjoy the amenities and services. Local residents and visitors alike are seeking a safer, cleaner, healthier, more pleasant environment with improved air quality and reduced noise. "

It's a town centre we have for goodness sake, yes get more people on buses and bicycles if you can and Nairn already has plenty of folk using those alternatives to get into the town centre but if we are going to have " a safer, cleaner, healthier, more pleasant environment with improved air quality and reduced noise" then that will come when the bypass is delivered. Until that day we will still have thousands of journeys made through Nairn on the A96.  

Let's just have a bit more tonight before this observer pours a dram, 

"Parking is an unintended by-product of journeys. Few people travel for the pleasure of parking. To quantify the optimum number of parking spaces in each locality, we need to know more about the journeys people make. At present there is insufficient accessible data about the sources, destinations and numbers of Highland journeys. An initiative is envisaged which will encourage research to obtain more factual information about travel undertaken by residents and visitors, probably in conjunction with UHI and HIE." 

OK then Glenurquhart Road you are going to introduce parking charges here and you admit that you have insufficient data about the sources, destinations and numbers of Highland journeys. You envisage research, mmmmmm, why go about chucking parking charges into the mix everywhere you see fit then? It seems to be that you have no idea with what you could be interfering with?  How about doing the research, then you have something to build a credible parking policy on?  

That's all for tonight folks, we'll be back tomorrow with more analysis of the document if time permits. There's 62 pages and if you fancy some yourselves you can read a copy here. 

One last tip for Highland Council, people in Nairn do park for pleasure, nothing quite like a fish supper down at the Harbour, sitting out looking over the Moray Firth. It's what a lot of folk in Nairn do, Free Parking is in the town's DNA. 


Brian Turner said...

Well said, Gra. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like HC have come up with (what they think) is a jolly good idea to make money and are now trying to come up with reasons to justify it. Is there any detailed analysis or cost-benefit projections? Have they given or considered any alternative options?

Horses, stable door, bolted comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

How about putting up parking metres in the Highland Council HQ Car Park in Inverness. And especially ones that charge based on salary for the high salaried executives running the Council, say £5 an hour? They pay from their wages just as Nairnites will have to out of theirs to park in Nairn in the future.

Remove any Highland Council funded cars for dignitaries and staff, replacing them with bicycles. Great for the environment and producing healthier leaner dignitaries and staff.