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Minutes of the 18 October 2005 Community Meeting

1. Talk by Richard Bennett, Head of Highways Management Group – infrastructure, plans, and proposals; and Charles Field, Traffic Management Engineer – signing and improvements to parking, who has been working for J.P. Consultants for a year and a half on the Parking Review.

RB and CF talked about the Central Brighton Parking Review and traffic management, and then answered questions.

The proposed changes are intended to simplify a system which as it stands is confusing for residents and visitors alike, and to reduce the waiting lists for residents' parking permits. Currently 1.6 permits are issued for every Residents' Parking Bay – the aim is to reduce this to 1.3 per bay. It is claimed that the changes are not revenue-driven, but 'revenue-neutral'.

Charles Field said that all the proposals are still 'up for grabs'. The first phase of consultation ends on 31/10/05, so residents should return the completed questionnaires with their views to the Council by that date. Then all the comments will be put together and a final report will be produced early next year, to get permission to proceed with this scheme or a similar one. Then a Traffic Order will be produced, with three weeks  allowed for comments, then a further report, which residents will be able to view, then the final decision. There will be a Council meeting in January which residents can attend, although they won't be allowed to speak. 

The main points in the Parking Review, as emphasised by RB & CF:

  • Creation of two large zones – North Central Brighton and South Central Brighton – from the current eight small zones;
  • Half of bays to be for residents, half shared residents' parking and Pay & Display, with more P&D in commercial areas;
  • Standardisation of parking system all over Brighton and Hove, with regard to shared residents' and Pay&Display bays;
  • Voucher parking to be replaced by shared P&D and Residents' Parking bays.
  • Single yellow lines to be replaced by double yellow lines where necessary for safety reasons, or parking bays of one kind or another where it is safe to do so.

Positive approval was given by residents for:

  • Allowing residents to park on Pay & Display bays.
  • Standardisation of shared residents' and P&D parking  city-wide – it would be better to start with standardisation and see how that goes before making other changes – proceed step by step;

A number of concerns about the review and the current parking situation were expressed and agreed by those present:

  • Everyone was against scrapping the existing small zones and amalgamating them into two large zones, as this would lead to 'intra-zone commuting' and great difficulty for town centre residents parking, as people in the outer areas of the enlarged zones would come into the centre to park;
  • Residents were concerned about changing the current restriction times on residents' parking bays and single yellow lines;
  • If single yellow lines disappear, people coming home from work after 7 or 8 pm will have little chance of finding a parking space, whether or not they have a RPP - single yellow lines are essential as parking overspill; should be retained for free parking after 6 pm;
  • Pavement parking is a serious problem; it causes damage to pavements and a dangerous obstruction. Pavement parking should be decriminalised so that wardens, not police, could enforce it; (a resident stated that wardens could in fact ticket for this). Where there is a recurrent problem of pavement parking on narrow streets with SLYs, these should be converted to double yellow lines.
  • Problem of shortage of parking spaces is compounded by allowing people with a RPP to buy visitors' permits (CF said that at present not all areas can get these, but they are hoping to allow everyone to be able to have them).
  • Poor enforcement of existing system – great deal of illegal parking by visitors, especially in streets adjacent to Western Road;
  • New commercial and residential developments will lead to increased pressure on parking spaces in centre – all new developments should have built-in parking (some new developments cannot have any cars);
  • double yellow lines allow five minutes for short-term loading and unloading;
  • Marking of bays – individual car spaces or long continuous bays?
  • Siting of P&D machines and signage – would this be sensitively done? Traffic Order would show exact proposed location of P&D machines – could be moved in case of objections; residents' permission would be sought to place signs on walls to reduce street clutter;
  • Is it fair to allow all-day parking outside houses with basement rooms? This is currently being looked into.

Other suggestions for improving the situation for residents:

  • Disabled parking permit system is abused by clearly able-bodied people and should be more carefully monitored;
  • Multiple RPPs in one household, whilst neighbour might have to wait 18 months for RPP – should phase in limit of one per household;
  • Allow town centre residents to apply for cheaper RPP, valid for outer area only, if they want.

The general feeling was that the changes would result in a worse parking situation. Charles Field suggested that a petition be sent in to the Council – feedback from residents is essential.

It was decided therefore to formulate a general CMPCA policy and letter to the Council on the issue, and to organise street by street petitions in addition, with voluntary help of Street Reps and/or concerned residents. Cllr Pennington advised that petitions should not be too simple - give reasons and rationales; main point is about changing zones. (One resident disagreed –  said that for a petition to have any impact, there must be straightforward demands, and as many signatures as possible.)

Cllr Pennington informed us of the meeting on the Parking Review for Brighton Central South on 27/10 in Bedford Square, which we were welcome to attend.

2. Minutes of last meeting on 13.9.05.

Minutes approved. Constitution – looking to get a draft constitution out for the next meeting and in the newsletter coming out in early December for approval. We are hoping to bring the AGM forward to January from April.

3. Treasurer's Report

 4. Planning Issues

Royal Alexandra Hospital: we wrote on 17.10.05 to the Head of the Trust that owns the RAH site, to ask about their plans for the site. By the time of our next meeting on 15/11, we hope to have a reply, which we will share with the meeting. We are trying to get information about their plans because at the moment there is only speculation. We have written to English Heritage to ask them to look into listing the main building.

5. Newsletter - response from residents and advertisers has been very positive. Local items wanted - contributions, articles, letters etc., especially for Xmas Issue (coming out early December – deadline is 24th October, or possibly slightly later if absolutely necessary). Send in by e-mail preferably.

6. Social Events – Xmas Social Gathering following Mike Jones' talk on 13th December at St. MMCC – offers of help welcomed.

7. Fundraising – could we get Council help – is there any assistance available for organisations such as this? Cllr Pennington advised looking at Council website for information, but we need to have the Constitution ready.

Any more Volunteers to be Street Reps – we still have vacancies for the following streets:

Borough Street, Crown Street, Montpelier Road, Montpelier Terrace, Montpelier Villas, Montpelier Road, Vernon Terrace, Vine Place, Regent Hill.

8. A.O.B.

MacDonald's on the corner of Dean Street and Western Road is applying for extension to opening hours. Residents are getting up a petition in opposition – 100% response. Hearing is on Friday 21/10. 

Redevelopment of Queen's Square Ice Rink – Michael Fisher is organising opposition.

Suggestion that former glass shop on Powis Road might be converted to sex shop, but Council has not received an application. It would go through the Licensing Committee, which Cllr Pennington sits on, and he knew nothing about it, but will keep an ear out.

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