Residents will have to pay to park outside their own homes - because the council can’t afford to build a car park even though it has permission.
Derbyshire County Council has come under fire for pursuing the controversial scheme that would see thousands of residents paying for parking permits – when the authority already has the green light for two new car parks in Matlock.
Around 2,000 homes and businesses in the town have received questionnaires from external contractor URS on behalf of the county council.
The idea has been thought up in a bid to tackle to ongoing problem of County Hall employees parking on residential streets.
However in 2011, the county council was granted planning permission to convert the tennis courts and old gym at Chatsworth Hall, in Chesterfield Road.
Councillor Sue Burfoot, who represents All Saint’s Ward on Derbyshire Dales District Council, said: “They are not going to do the work because of the cost, so that’s not helping.”
A county council spokesman confirmed the proposed work would cost more than £100,000, adding: “in the current financial climate we didn’t feel that it was expenditure we could justify.”
The proposed area for the parking permit scheme goes from Steep Turnpike and Chesterfield Road, to the western end of Smedley Street and Megdale estate.
The charge for residents’ permits would be £35 per year for the first vehicle of a property with subsequent residents’ permits costing £50 per year and business permits costing £70 per year.
All day visitor permits would be £3, with annual visitor permits available.
Harry Wassell, of Rutland Avenue, Matlock, commented: “I am all for parking permits in Matlock, particularly in the immediate vicinity of County Offices as I am sure will the majority of residents. However, the cost needs to be dramatically reduced to make it viable for residents.
“During working hours, our street is completely blocked by council workers jettisoning their cars, and taking the spaces that should really belong to the residents. There is no problem parking outside of office times whatsoever.”
He added that he was not comfortable with being charged to park outside his home.
Emily Kay, of Far Cross, Matlock, takes her daughter to school at All Saints Infant’s School, in Dimple Road, by car before going to work at Scotland Nurseries, in Tansley, each morning. As there is no car park outside the school, she raised concerns that she could be charged just to drop her child off.
“I’m a single mum and I have to work,” she explained, “so for me to walk to school it takes me 15 minutes to get back home again.
“For me to do that and then get to work in time, it’s not possible. So if they did enforce that there they really need to consider what they are going to do around the school.”
Emily also raised concerns that she could be charged just to visit her friend on Megdale, adding it would not just be residents who were affected by the scheme, but anyone who needed to park in the area to visit people or otherwise.
The parking scheme would not provide residents with a guaranteed parking space outside their homes.
The deadline for the consultation is July 16.
If two thirds of those who respond are in favour of a parking scheme the council will then formally consult.
The county council operates a number of incentives to reduce the number of cars parking in the area by employees. These include car share and cycle to work schemes, as well as interest free loans on annual bus and train tickets.
Matlock county councillor Andy Botham, said: “Going back to when we were first standing for election one of the major issues whilst canvassing was people being unable to park outside their house.
“Some of the streets are inaccessible at certain times of the day.”
He said the cost of employing URS to send questionnaires to residents and businesses in the selected area, and then analyse the data received, was around £3,000.
“I will personally be looking at the responses myself as well,” Cllr Botham added.
He explained that the reason the area covered by the questionnaire was so wide, was because if only the streets surrounding the County Offices were affected by a parking scheme, employees would end up parking further out to avoid it.
“I fully understand the concerns the residents have,” he added. “But the people of Matlock also need to understand County Hall is the major employer in the area and we have to live together because if County Hall wasn’t here in Matlock, Matlock would be dead.
“Parking wouldn’t be a problem but house prices would drop, shops would close, there would be no employment.
“We put in schemes for car shares and ask employees to use public transport to get to work, but I know people who live in walking distance of County Hall and drive to work. I know people who drive to work at County Hall because it’s easy. I also know there are a lot of council workers who park on the streets without even looking to see if there is space in the car park.”
He added that by making it harder for council workers to park on the streets, the parking problems in Matlock should get better.
Cllr Botham encouraged people to make their own comments on how they feel the problems could be alleviated on the questionnaire.
Matlock councillor Sue Burfoot said: “There are without doubt many residents on Matlock Bank who are experiencing major parking problems on their streets mainly because of parking by county council staff. This has been the case for many years.
“The county council now seems to accept this.
“In my view this questionnaire and its requirement for a two thirds majority in favour of a self–financing residents’ parking permit scheme could be seen as being set up to fail. The area in question is so widespread that streets such as Megdale and Wolds Rise, I would guess, are almost certain not to vote for such a scheme. Indeed, as a resident of Megdale myself, where there is no problem with DCC staff parking on our road, why on earth would I want to pay to park on the street and also have to pay for any day visitors in advance!”
She added that she thought the questionnaire was flawed in that it talked about zoned areas, however she thought that when filling in the form residents had no idea which streets will be in their zone.
Cllr Burfoot added: “The level of support apparently has to be two thirds of ALL responses received. I can understand that residents in certain streets may support such a scheme and I would support them if that is the case.
“It has always been true that the main problems are in specific areas around County Hall and Chatsworth Hall and if this questionnaire fails at the first hurdle, we will still be left with the same problems and no solution. Surely any survey should have been very specifically targeted towards certain streets, and perhaps on a trial basis?
“I have always liked the idea of ‘access only’ orders in certain streets to help residents but the county council do not support this.”
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Craig Cantrill said: “I have a way to sort it. Charge the council workers for bringing their cars into Matlock and parking on streets that we live on. Maybe they should use public transport to come into the town and that would cut down the amount of cars too.”
Harriet Scarlett Pixie Halse said: “Give residents all free passes then anyone who isn’t displaying it give them a ticket. Another money making scheme where the residents are losing out yet again! What do we pay council tax for?”
Nita Chamberlain said: “Instead of wasting residents’ money on parking permits, wouldn’t it be better for the council to provide enough parking spaces for their employees by building a multi–storey car park on the existing car park at County Offices on Bank Road, that way everyone will be happy and able to park outside their properties and work place? Problem solved or is that to easy and too much to ask?”
Katie Hall said: “Why should the houses without driveways, which generally people like me on lower income live, be penalised by having to pay an additional amount to park on the public highway. The council need to get a bigger car park or even a new out of town car park and offer a park and ride service. When I worked at the council I worked with people who lived less than a five min walk but drove! Maybe there should be a charge for [those] who can walk to work and don’t!”
Joanne Parker–Liddle said: “Nobody is considering how this will affect the businesses on Smedley Street. I work in the area and not for the council and have nowhere else to park but the local streets. I pay my tax too so should be able to park on any public road I like. There is no public transport from where I live.”
Annie Howe said: “Whilst it’s a money pot generator for the council, I would rather pay £35 a year for my parking space than go through the headache and stress of trying to park everyday. As a resident in this area I so often feel like a prisoner trapped in my home reluctant to pop out in case I can’t get back again.”
Jonathan C Riley said: “Even if you do pay, as it says in the letter, “its not a guaranteed parking spot”. So why pay to ‘maybe’ be able to park outside your home?”
Nichola Bacon said: “Just another way to ruin Matlock again. Anyone with any children living at home with cars could be paying £200 per year and how can they say my parents need to pay £3 per day for a day pass just to pick my child up from school, absolutely ridiculous.”