Parking issues have gone on long enough

Madam,

Reply to letter from Cllr Simon Spencer May 26.

And there you have it – the usual claptrap that residents receive when dealing with County Hall. “It’s not us guv’ and even if it is, we can park where we like!”

And did you notice the vague threat to employment? They always bring that one out as if someone is suggesting that they should move from Matlock. Oh, and by the way, even before the recession, if any ‘hopeful’ ever tries to pursue the last point in his letter, they’ll tell you that there’s no money and in any case, “There was this survey in 2005 you see…”

So lets establish a few facts. The problems caused by County Hall workers parking in residential areas is not limited to the streets you mention in your article dated 19th May 2011.

On Wednesday 8th September 2010 I chaired a packed, independent, fact finding meeting of local residents at Golding House on Henry Avenue. 46 households out of the invited 108 from Henry Avenue, New Street, Smedley Street East, Oak Road and Lime Grove Avenue attended. Many others were unable to attend but expressed an interest. Five small businesses on Smedley Street East were also invited but did not attend. County Offices were not invited as they are not on one of the streets mentioned.

At this meeting, (where everyone completed a parking survey fact finding form which we still have as evidence) it was established beyond doubt that those present felt that County Hall was the major culprit with regard to work day parking. In fact everyone present considered County Hall to be a nuisance neighbour. This point is recorded in the minutes.

At a slightly later meeting to ours, held at County Hall, I’m told that the first question of the evening was to ask Mr Neil Hickman, assistant director (area management) highways, environmental services for DCC where he parked his car”. After answering, (I believe at the time he regularly parked on Hopewell Road) he was allegedly overheard to say to Cllr Jackson, “I don’t see why I should have to justify where I park my car.” The point being that someone who should protect our interests is actually part of the problem.

At the same meeting Cllr Flitter, as Chairman, was accused by Cllr Chris Jackson DCC deputy leader and cabinet member for highways and transport of, “Organising and rounding up one sided support from some resident supporters” (referring to our meeting). In fact Cllr Flitter did not attend the earlier meeting at Golding House and I did not attend the one at County Hall. I have never met or spoken to Cllr Flitter.

And, in last week’s Mercury a letter was published from a County Hall employee writing to say that after 8:30am they couldn’t find anywhere to park. It would seem that ordinary employees and residents are singing from the same hymn sheet after all. The only survey that County Hall need to carry out is not the expensive one that they try to convince us that we need, or have wasted money on previously, but one that any honest organisation would undertake to put their own house in order ie, an in-house survey to establish how many parking spaces they actually need. All you have to do then is decide how this can be achieved without dumping cars on your neighbour’s doorstep!

If Derbyshire County Council had received the huge volume of complaints about any other single organisation or business (eg as in the case of Rolls Royce in Derby) they would have been fighting for the rights of local residents who rely on on-street parking. But instead, as it affects them directly, here the leaders have simply set out to protect their own interests. If miracle of miracles, some streets did get help, the rest and more would be inundated as we have been told repeatedly that County Hall have no idea of how many parking spaces they actually need for staff and visitors.

And that brings us to the thorny issue of the questionnaire sent out in 2005. What kind of a survey is it that does not first establish the size of the problem? If it is eventually discovered that representatives of County Offices have established the number of spaces they need, then this is common deceit enacted by a public body and those responsible should be punished accordingly.

In 2005 questions such as, ‘Would you be willing to pay for a residents’ parking scheme?’ (worded as if there was a choice) left residents feeling duped and out of pocket when in their heart of hearts they knew that County Offices were the major offender. Also in 2005 streets such as Henry Avenue had an Access Only status so why would residents vote to pay for a parking scheme when they had no problems at the time? The Access Only status has since been withdrawn, and their fate is now the same as everyone else’s. A review that was promised to residents after one year has not taken place.

County Hall have been disingenuous in their dealings with residents, constantly making excuses and failing to bring together the huge number of written and verbal complaints as a whole, instead hiding behind single complaints over a number of years.

Even the results of the questionnaire were flawed as the number of houses listed for some streets was incorrect and it did not take into account several homes with off street parking. At a later date, Smedley Street East was promised a relaxation of the ‘one hour only’ parking restrictions but at the last minute this was denied without explanation. One resident had £100 in fines in just one week, the week her first baby was born.

For more than ten years now county offices have tried to obscure the evidence. Mr Tranter (when he was the council representative for traffic management) said to me face to face that, “As people go off to work, their parking space would be empty and should therefore be used by people [i.e., them] to park in,” totally failing to comprehend the complexities of a knock-on situation of which they are the primary cause.

It really is time for parking issues on all of the streets around county offices to be investigated by an independent body as Derbyshire County Council have proved themselves totally worthless to the task.

Cllr Spencer you are letting us down. Perhaps residents should get together to represent individual streets and then picket County Hall. Maybe you would listen then?

Mark Finney

New Street

Matlock