w/c 3 February 2020
The issue of parking is a perennial one in Southend. Whether it is a lack of available spaces for residents and visitors alike, or the cost when you do find one, we have yet to find a definitive answer.
So, I was very interested to see the recent new proposals to introduce free parking near the High Street. Specifically, it has been suggested that the side roads around the town centre will have their existing yellow lines replaced with parking bays, offering two hours of free parking. The ambition behind this scheme is to ‘unleash Southend’s potential’, which in turn will ‘resolve the issues in the High Street’.
The counterblast to this laudable idea is that the possible number of bays introduced, were the scheme to be implemented, would be minimal and that traffic in residential streets would be greatly increased.
As you can see, there is merit in both arguments. In the case of the latter, if you create an opportunity for more vehicles to come into Southend, you increase the potential for more jams on high days and holidays, plus more pollution as drivers circle the area trying to find one of the free spots.
I’m not a politician, but if anyone is interest in the BID’s input, my suggestion would be this: If free parking for two hours could be rolled out across all the town centre car parks, then this is potentially a great plan and really could bring more people into the town.
It would be interesting to see this come into play alongside another proposal, for a monthly residents’ parking permit that allows the purchaser to park wherever they want in the borough, whenever they wish.
While these are interesting short-term ideas to pull people into the town, we must also take the long view. We need to invest in cheaper, more regular and attractive public transport and by doing so, we will encourage visitors by offering them a much-reduced traffic and pollution experience.
- Suzanne Gloyne