Parking permits ‘could be final straw’ for Kettering businesses

Kettering businesses in an area which could be made residents’ parking only fear the move would have a huge impact on their trade.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 4th March 2019, 5:00 am
Trevor Panter and Vince Geranio are both against the proposal.
Trevor Panter and Vince Geranio are both against the proposal.

One of the zones is Zone J, which currently includes part of Queensberry Road, Kensington Gardens and The Crescent because of their proximity to the train station.

Hawthorn Road on Friday afternoon.

Plans laid out by the council suggested adding part of Headlands, The Drive, Broadway, Hawthorn Road, Glebe Avenue, Garfield Street, Argyll Street, Roundhill Road and St Michael’s Road - but they have faced a backlash from businesses there.

Butcher Mark Coales, who runs M A Coales in Hawthorn Road with wife Claire, said: “It’s not going to solve anything, it’s just going to push all of the cars into surrounding streets.

“We will, if it adversely affects our trade, be looking elsewhere.

“And it won’t necessarily be in this borough.”

Shop owner Dilip Patel says the permits won't guarantee people a space.

Vince Geranio from Vince’s Barbers in Hawthorn Road said: “I’m totally against it, like every other business around here.

“Am I going to have to give every customer a ticket to park?

“I would prefer another solution.”

Hollie Carson, partner at the family-run Topnots Hair and Beauty Studio in Argyll Street, said not only would permit parking affect them, but any time limits for visitor bays would also have an impact.

Hollie Carson says the scheme would have a huge impact on their customers.

She said: “Customers knowing they have a time limit to visit us is just so upsetting as we offer a service that is not to be rushed.

“We are a business that is thrilled to be celebrating 30 years next year and would really love to be celebrating in Argyll Street, a street we’ve loved through the six years we have been here thanks to the community and fabulous location that it has to offer.

“It would be an awful shame if permit parking was introduced in this zone.”

Permits currently cost £35 per year and those with permits will be able to apply for visitor scratchcards for visiting family and friends.

Butcher Mark Coales said if the scheme affected his trade he could leave the area.

A consultation on the proposal ended at the start of the month and council papers said results will be presented to a committee for a decision in April.

Dilip Patel, owner of Hawthorn Store, said he was against the proposal.

He said: “It’s going to be no good and not just for the shop, but because I live here as well.

“If it guaranteed you a space then you wouldn’t mind but we’ll be paying £35 for no guarantee that we can park.”

A similar proposal for the area back in 2008 was also overwhelmingly rejected by businesses.

But it’s not just the businesses that are against the plans.

Hawthorn Community Primary School, which has no car park and relies on teachers and parents parking in the street, ran a petition against the proposal.

Headteacher Julie Clubley said: “I have serious concerns about the introduction of such a scheme in the area around my school.

“Although I am able to sympathise with those residents who find it difficult to park outside of their houses, I do not believe that the introduction of a scheme such as this will improve the parking problems in this area - the issue is that there are simply too many residents with too many cars for the available spaces.

She added that if the proposal is given the green light it could have an impact on staff recruitment.

She said: “I believe that Hawthorn Community Primary School would be severely disadvantaged if this scheme gets the go ahead, as it could cause issues with staff recruitment and retention, and also influence families’ decisions about which school they would like their children to attend.

“I cannot imagine that many people would be happy to park in the town centre car parks in order to visit the school.

“The school has been operating in this area since 1894, and it would be a huge shame if its continued successful operation was threatened by the introduction of residents’ only parking.”

Louise Crookenden-Johnson, who lives in Headlands and is churchwarden of St Michael’s Church, said: “If the parking scheme is introduced then it will have a significant effect on the community aspect of church life.

“There are about 350 people who use the church every week - and most of these are not here for church services but for the myriad of uses that our church has.

“They are a big part of our community. We have a huge number of volunteers who may not be able to park and it appears there won’t even be enough permits available for the six clergy members here.

“There is a wonderful amount of vibrancy brought to the church by the community members who use it for so many different reasons. They make the church what it is.

“We need to encourage these people, not make it more difficult for them to come here.”

A Freedom of Information request by one resident revealed there had been four complaints about parking from residents of the potential new Zone J roads in five years.

Despite the fears of businesses and community groups, ultimately it’s the residents who will decide.

Only when 60 per cent of residents are in favour of a street being within a zone will one be considered.

By late February voting suggested, of those who responded, Broadway and Headlands residents would vote for the scheme and Hawthorn Road households would vote against.

Members of an online group to discuss the proposal were overwhelmingly against the plans.

John Prendergast, who lives in Garfield Street, said: “Whatever you think is the problem with parking in our area, commuters, residents having too many cars per house, school runs or people parking for town shopping, the simplistic proposal to have permit parking will not solve anything.

“At best it will just move the problem to the next area along. Even if you vote yes to this you are not likely to get the parking you wish for because all of the issues involved aren’t being addressed.

“To solve this we need innovative and joined up thinking. Charging residents for parking is neither.”

Trevor Panter, who lives in Hawthorn Road, said he often returns home from shift work at 6am unable to find a space.

But he said: “Most houses have two or three cars. Permits aren’t going to solve that.”

Sarah Grimston, who lives at the bottom of Argyll Street, said: “We never have parking problems here, but this would probably change if the scheme is implemented as it always just pushes the problem on.

“I know parking is worse at the top of Argyll Street, but there are many businesses clustered there as well as the school.

“Most residents here are very worried about these businesses, as in a difficult time already we fear this will be the final straw.

“Even if there is something actioned for them we know people are put off by the residents’ parking, unsure where they can park and worried about the consequences.”

She added that she felt it was a money-making exercise by the council.

However, there will be several households that vote for the plan because not only can they not park in their own street, but because they cannot park in neighbouring streets.

The old, terraced streets were simply not built for houses to have two, three or even more cars per family.

Residents in streets near the extended zone area have also had their say.

Simon Palmer lives in The Crescent, which is already part of Zone J, and he said it ‘is working’. If the proposal is approved everyone living in those streets will then be able to park in his road.

He believes if the extension is approved it should be a completely new zone.

He said: “I genuinely do believe that the residents should have a say on the proposal. However, those currently in Zone J should too.

“I believe that it is outrageous that our current situation could be altered without any thought or consideration. We have had the system in place, paying our fees for many many years.”

Andy Downes lives in Ostlers Way just on the edge of the scheme.

He said: “Where are the Bishop Stopford pupils going to park?

“There is no space on the school grounds and if the entire length of Headlands is permit parking only, that leaves Ostlers Way and Bishops Drive as the closest options.

“The option of these pupils paying to park or parking somewhere further away is just completely unrealistic.

“Ostlers Way is not that wide and I am genuinely concerned emergency vehicles will struggle to get access along the street if there are cars parked all along it.”

Under the council’s proposals Zone M could also be extended to include more of Westhill Drive, Westover Road, Westhill Close, Westway and West Furlong. The council says it is because it is close to a school and businesses.

Under the plans two further zones would be created. Zone P would include part of London Road, Wallis Road and Wallis Crescent, because of their proximity to Wicksteed Park, shops and the supermarket.

Zone Q would include Hill Street, Leicester Street, Leicester Close, Carlton Street, Oxford Street, Bayes Street, Cobden Street and part of Field Street, because of their proximity to the town centre, supermarket and retail centre.

When asked about the fears of businesses and some residents in the proposed Zone J, a Kettering Council spokesman said: “If residents do not want a scheme, they can vote against it and it will not happen.

“This is what happened ten years ago when this area was last consulted.

“There is a threshold of 60 per cent for a positive vote, so it needs a very strong level of support for any scheme to be approved.”

The spokesman added that residents’ parking schemes do not make a surplus for the council and function at a break even point “at best”.

They said they reduced the fees for a permit from £45 to £35 as they felt the service could be managed within that permit rate.