This week I joined councillors from around North Tyneside in a series of discussions with Council officers about updating the borough’s parking strategy.
Without doubt, parking is consistently one of the main issues arriving in my inbox. I’ve also found that parking issues can often be the most difficult to resolve. The problems needing attention can be quite complex in nature, involving multiple different pressures. Yet the toolbox of solutions available tends to be quite limited – with double yellow lines being the go-to option in far too many cases. My hope for the new strategy is that it might lead to smarter problem-solving with a wider range of options being used.
My impression is that most people recognise that the root of many of our parking problems is one of overall supply and demand – too many cars competing for too few spaces. In some of our terraced streets this is a problem that resident parking schemes cannot solve because the cars belong to residents not to visitors. In other streets, for example those close to town centres, the problems are more to do with visitors. In these cases resident schemes can potentially help. Other common problems involve people parking carelessly, selfishly, dangerously, (or all three !) in which case yellow lines might make a difference.
All this goes to show how tricky it can be to manage the competing needs of different car users: residents, visiting family & friends, home care workers, deliveries, shoppers, commuters, business premises… And in every case the solutions that are developed need to avoid unintended consequences, that is, fixing one problem but creating another one (or two, or three) in the process!
One message that I heard coming through, and that I hope to see becoming part of the new strategy, was the need for greater flexibility. There are two sides to this:
- A more flexible approach to appriasing new schemes. Currently all requests for parking restrictions are received during the year and then basically stored up and decided on in a big batch all at once. This is very frustrating for many residents as it means the wait for a decision can be a very log time. I am in support of shifting to a new approach whereby decisions are made in batches 3 or 4 times a year.
- Greater use of time-limited and mixed-use parking. This may come in the form of using single-yellow lines rather than double-yellow lines – so that parking isn’t prevented 24/7 for problems that only occur at certain times of day or certain days of the week. This also goes for resident parking schemes, whereby streets can be half empty during the day whilst people are at work, and yet legitimate visitors can’t park for an hour or two should they need to.
I know that many of you have strong feelings about parking issues, and so my hope is that the new parking strategy, when it comes into force, will provide a bit more wiggle room to solve some of the parking headaches that we’ve been living with for a long time.
PS – for those interested in getting into the small print the council’s current parking strategy can be downloaded by clicking here. (warning 17 pages long!)