Kettering residents to vote again on parking permits after council consultation branded a shambles

Residents living in Broadway, Headlands and The Drive will be surveyed again.
Residents living in Broadway, Headlands and The Drive will be surveyed again.

Kettering Council will re-ballot residents on contentious parking permit proposals after the recent consultation was branded a ‘shambles’.

Tensions were running high at Kettering Council’s executive meeting last night (Apr 17) as residents living in the town centre area spoke out against the findings of a survey which had considered introducing residents’ parking permits households to 22 streets.

The results had proposed an extension of the existing Zone M – Westhill Drive, Westhill Close, West Furlong, West Way, Westover Road – after 70 per cent of residents voted in favour, and there was also the suggestion that The Drive, a street off Broadway, could have permits introduced, despite Zone J (which it is part of) voting against permits.

Residents in Zone P – part of London Road, Wallis Road, Wallis Crescent – had voted overwhelmingly against permits and the parking permit threshold was also not met in the proposed Zone Q – Cobden Street, Bayes Street, Carlton Street, Oxford Street, Leicester Street, Leicester Close, part of Field Street and Field Street Avenue.

But at the lively meeting, after a wide range of complaints from residents, the council’s executive committee voted to devise a new scheme and reconsult some residents living in parts of Zone J.

This is likely to be the streets of Broadway, Headlands and The Drive. The plan to extend Zone M was agreed and permits will be introduced.

Cllr Mark Dearing said: “On reflection I think we need to look at again.

“Given what has been said I think we do need to take this quite seriously. I’d like to consider a smaller zone that looks at the area and parts of street that strongly support parking restrictions.”

Town centre parking in residential streets has long been a bone of contention in Kettering and at the meeting almost every issue was aired.

Some residents living in streets near the rail station have problems with commuters parking up outside their home; some have concerns that if parking permits are introduced in some streets then it will create parking problems in other streets and others felt that if permits were introduced it would stop people being able to come into the area and use the various business and services.

Broadway resident Dave Beg said the majority of those living near to him are in favour of parking permits to prevent commuters from parking outside their homes.

He said: “ I have seen it for years and it is getting worse and worse.

“Households are fed up returning from work and not able to park their car. Fed up returning from shopping and not able to park. Fed up going on a day trip and being unable to park outside their own home. It has been going on for years and we have had to put up with it. We feel that if the council were to refuse to give that proposal serious consideration it would be a travesty of a request that is reasonable and very fair.”

The way the authority conducted the survey was also slammed. Between February 1 and March 1 the authority had surveyed more than 1,000 households.

However, many said it was unclear how the council had determined the results. A 60 per cent vote in favour was needed for the permit to go ahead in each zone, but there were suggestions at the meeting that rather than take a percentage of those who had responded the authority had used the total household figure and had counted none votes as no votes.

Some residents have now put in Freedom of Information requests to find out how the council has calculated the final results.

Cllr Maggie Don told the executive committee she has welcomed the survey, after almost a decade of waiting, but that the council had messed it up.

She said: “I have to say it has been an absolute shambles.”

Cllr Don said the survey had been put through letterboxes in unmarked brown envelopes and had been thrown in the bin by many residents who were did not know it was an important document.

Council leader Russell Roberts apologised for the fact the council had been ‘difficult to do business with’ and said it was eager to solve the problem.

But the plan to re-ballot some streets in Zone J was not met with joy from all quarters. Some said the vote had been taken and should not be done again.

The council will now discuss the issue with the Northamptonshire County Council acts as the highways authority.