Unanswered question over Lewes parking?

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REGARDING Lewes Parking Review and the extension of the parking scheme to roads in Nevill, what is the question to which the review is the answer?

Nevill is a quiet residential suburb west of Lewes town centre, separated from the town by the main A275 through road. Nevill’s minor inter-connecting roads carry minimal and overwhelmingly residential traffic. Orderly self-regulated on-street car parking has been undertaken by residents for many decades, ensuring minimal disruption and ‘visual pollution’ but maximum parking density and safety.

The traffic flow in our road equates to an estimated maximum of four vehicles per hour (and even then only when residents leave for or return from work).

Opportunities prior to the 2004 review for East Sussex County Council and other interested parties (“the stakeholders”) to properly embrace and deliver a lean, inclusive, expert-led and research-driven process to identify, address and debate everyone’s needs and concerns – and only then to identify and agree desired outcomes and benefits to residents – appear to have been squandered.

We consider the current review to be a bureaucratic, expensive and prescriptive top-down imposition of predetermined outcomes by stakeholders upon Lewes and Nevill residents, rather than a democratic, externally audited, independent and transparent consultation.

No strategic aims, declarations of interest, impact assessments or potential outcomes analyses have been provided against which residents can properly judge the stakeholders’ remit, aims and objectives in advance of the review.

No traffic flow, road safety or parking analyses have been undertaken in Nevill by independent experts to justify the present review and proposed parking controls.

The first stage consultation report on the extensive new parking controls first introduced in Lewes in 2004 (Atkins, 2011) confirms that these have had a negative impact on businesses, parking convenience and visitor numbers, and that a majority of respondents want the controls revised, reduced or abandoned.

Despite this, residents have only ever been notified about proposals to enlarge the parking controls, never about reducing or abandoning them.

At the drop-in surgery sessions, residents’ views were taken down by hand “for future transcription”, and utilised inaccurate hand-coloured maps. In an age of laptop computers, this flouts best practice and virtually ensures error, omission, inefficiency, expense and the creation of a potentially flawed central database to which residents themselves have no access or option of reviewing for accuracy.

Also at the drop-in surgery sessions, residents were informed that the proposed imposition of pay and display and permit parking bays is “for traffic calming”, “to prevent speeding” and “to stop overtaking” – even in cul-de-sacs.

Such bizarre revelations (which in any case would be better addressed by considering ‘speed bumps’ etc) were most unhelpful, exposing a lack of knowledge of Nevill and introducing specious new elements into the debate. (Parking restrictions are emphatically not “for traffic calming” in such a quiet suburb, while anti-speeding measures are only required on the main A275 Nevill Road bypassing the estate.)

One of the signatories below has lived in Nevill for 33 years, during which time self-regulated residential on-street parking has neither been a problem nor is forecast to become one. On-street residential parking was marketed as being one of the key benefits of purchasing the property.

In addition, aberrations in existing Lewes parking controls do not inspire confidence that a suitable, sympathetically-designed scheme would be imposed.

Anecdotal evidence overwhelmingly indicates a general perception that the review and pay and display parking controls are a “cash-generation scheme” or “money-making exercise” driven by stakeholders, rather than an innovative plan that delivers benefits to residents. This perception remains unaddressed.

Given the above, we believe that if the review leads to the imposition of pay and display parking bays and other controls in Nevill, legal challenges will inevitably follow – up to and including the European Court of Human Rights. (As unlikely as this may seem, this route was taken a few years ago in a successful action over planning permission for a house in Windover Crescent, Nevill). We strongly oppose an extension of the Lewes parking scheme to the roads in Nevill proposed by the review.

Sue Henderson &

Frank Landamore, Lewes