Delays to major parking overhauls for West Sussex’s towns

Delays to road space audit work across West Sussex have been heavily criticised by backbench county councillors.

Road Space Audits are being used as a new way of introducing changes to on-street parking restrictions
Road Space Audits are being used as a new way of introducing changes to on-street parking restrictions

The new approach is being trialled in Chichester as a way of managing current and future on-street parking demands.

A consultation on new controlled parking zones in the city closed earlier this month.

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However due to the delays with the Chichester RSA, work on other proposed schemes across West Sussex has been pushed back.

Members of the environment and communities scrutiny committee vented their displeasure at a meeting earlier this month.

They called for the cabinet member to review the whole programme to consider whether it is going to be delivered and if the necessary resources will be available to implement proposals.

The committee was told that Burgess Hill is being handled by Mid Sussex District Council, while a parking management plan is being advanced for both Crawley and Manor Royal.

An RSA for Worthing is then next on the list, followed by work in Shoreham, Horsham and Haywards Heath.

Officers said schemes had been delayed by between six and 18 months.

Steve Waight (Con, Goring) said: “I think we have to take this by the neck and either decide that we push the cabinet member to put in the resources to achieve this in 12 to 18 months or be honest with the people and say we are not going to get these in the foreseeable future and scrap out from the programme parts of it where we are making claims we can’t deliver on.”

Louise Goldsmith (Con, Chichester West) warned against ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’.

She said: “What we need to see is how we can accelerate this.”

Cllr Waight replied: “In some of these cases the baby hasn’t even been conceived and the water has gone cold.”

Roger Oakley (Con, Worthing East) added: “We either get the resources and do it properly or we do not do it.”

James Walsh (LDem, Littlehampton East) pushed for Arun’s towns such as Littlehampton and Bognor Regis to also be given priority, while Morwen Millson (LDem, Horsham Riverside) said she had her residents asking for updates over the last three years.

She said: “I have residents begging for something to happen in terms of alleviating their parking problems since 2017. What am I going to tell them?”

Chairman of the committee Andrew Barrett-Miles (Con, Burgess Hill North) suggested smaller parking changes were being delayed to await road space audits in places such as Burgess Hill, much to the annoyance of many of his constituents. He said: “The public are getting a little unhappy about it.”

Officers explained the Chichester RSA process had been ‘remarkably bigger and more time consuming than originally envisaged’.

Data took longer to import on to the correct systems, while numerous and lengthy feedback responses received during public consultations had to be collated and understood,

Miles Davey, director of highways, said: “Operationally there have seen reasons for the delays but we have learned some valuable lessons from that.”

He noted that parking was a very ‘emotive’ issue and when schemes that affect a very large area are proposed, gaining member and stakeholder agreement can be difficult.

Officers argued the RSA approach not only focused on current problem areas but also took into account where these might be displaced to if measures were implemented.

Mr Davey said: “As part of the RSA programme we still focus in where concerns are being raised, but we are also trying to think a lot more holistically and future proof and include areas to account for that traffic displacement.”