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Sunday parking charge proposals by Dover District Council - more than 3,000 say no in petitions

By Sam Lennon

More than 3,400 people have objected to new Sunday parking charges in online petitions.

The names, by this afternoon (Tuesday), added up 3,403.

This was 1,580 for Dover and 1,823 for Deal.

Campaigning councillors Charlotte “Charlie” Zosseder and Ian Palmer at the Stembrook car park, Dover. Picture: Peter Wallace
Campaigning councillors Charlotte “Charlie” Zosseder and Ian Palmer at the Stembrook car park, Dover. Picture: Peter Wallace

And a total 84%, or 37 out of 44, of traders in Dover town centre said they would be likely or extremely likely to be affected by the charges voted through by Dover District Council’s cabinet.

The Dover petition and straw poll was by Labour Dover town councillors Charlotte “Charlie” Zosseder and Ian Palmer.

In their survey of traders they learned that 83% of respondents, 34 out of 41, said it was “unlikely” or “extremely unlikely” that DDC had the best interests of Dover at heart.

Cllr Palmer said: “We carried out the survey on a Sunday, January 28, when the core traders, farmers market and service users were directly available.

The results we collected and personal accounts were deeply concerning.

“It is essential that DDC listens to the traders of the high street.

It is those businesses and individuals who are at the forefront.

“Failure to pay attention to key warnings such as these is blatantly ignorant and clearly dismissive of their concerns.”

Cllr Zosseder said: “The people and businesses of Dover feel disenfranchised by DDC.

"Dover needs support from the council to help the struggling high street and community groups thrive.

“While they are pledging money with one hand, they are taking it with the other.”

The Deal petition was carried out by Labour Town Councillor Nick Tomaszewski calling on the district council to cancel the plans.

Cllr Zosseder said: “The petition and survey show that the district council has made a mistake.

"They have made the decision without any evidence or consultation.”

Deal town councilor Nick Tomaszewski
Deal town councilor Nick Tomaszewski

Deal’s Cllr Nick Tomaszewski, says it;s time for DDC to listen.

He said: “A huge amount of people have signed these petitions and I believe it is time to say to DDC: ‘You must listen to your electorate regarding Sunday parking charges. Nobody wants them.'

DDC must overturn this proposal.”

Deal councillor and Labour district group leader Mike Eddy said: “I, along with a lot of others, feel the people of Deal are paying the price for the ineptitude of the Conservative administration of DDC.

"I look forward to the petitions coming to the district council for debate in the next few weeks.”

Peter Jull, Deal and Walmer Chamber of Trade chairman, said: “DDC have argued that a shortage of short term spaces makes it necessary to introduce parking charges on Sundays in Middle Street.

“If this is a valid argument then their proposal to allow two residents parking permits per household can only reduce the number of spaces in Stanhope Road and St George’s Road for short term users of town centre facilities.

“The Chamber is challenging DDC about this illogical approach.”

Cllrs Palmer and Zosseder surveying business people on car parking. They are with Glenn Fifield of the Mean Bean cafe in Dover. Picture: Peter Wallace
Cllrs Palmer and Zosseder surveying business people on car parking. They are with Glenn Fifield of the Mean Bean cafe in Dover. Picture: Peter Wallace

The DDC cabinet yesterday reinforced its decision to bring in the Sunday charges.

This was despite a call by the scrutiny committee to drop the plans because there is less public transport on a Sunday, which could affect local traders.

A spokesman for DDC said: “We can confirm cabinet did not accept scrutiny recommendations on a cabinet decision to extend Sunday parking charges.

"However, we would stress that changes to parking charges will be subject to a period of consultation.”

The scrutiny committee had also asked the cabinet to provide information on “churning,” the movement of vehicles in and out of car parks.

The council says it is still gathering information as part of its ongoing parking review.

Seven-day parking payments already exist at Dover’s Seafront and Camden Crescent sites.

The additional car parks chosen for Sunday charging in 2018/19, are Stembrook, Woolcomber Street, Townwall Street and Bench Street.

They are the ones closest to the forthcoming St James’ development, which will impose seven-day charges.

DDC says failing to match that could lead to drivers swamping the four sites to save paying anything.

It also says that the town centre charges are cheaper than in neighbouring districts, and for shorter periods.

The authority says it is trying to strike a balance between keeping cars coming and going into spaces and stopping car parks being clogged up but also encouraging people to use town centre businesses.

Parking continues to be free on other central sites on Sunday.

These are Maison Dieu Road, Pencester Road, Ladywell, Norman Street and Albany plus on-street at Pencester Road.

Middle Street car park, also known as Deal Library car park
Middle Street car park, also known as Deal Library car park

A dozen car parks will be affected, in Deal at Middle Street, South Street, Stanhope Road, the Town Hall, Sainsbury’s, St Ethelburga’s and Park Street and at Sandwich the Guildhall.

DDC says car parks in Deal are almost full at weekends and during special events there is even more demand for space.

The council spokesman added: “The decision to extend Sunday charging was taken to better manage increased demand for parking. Other east Kent authorities already charge on Sundays.

“DDC parking charges are among the lowest in east Kent, and the charging period is the shortest in east Kent, from 9am to 5pm only.

“The decision has also been taken to freeze parking charges for the second year running.

The petitions have already attracted enough support to be debated in a full district council meeting.

To sign for Dover, visit: tinyurl.com/DoverParkingPetition.

For Deal Visit: change.org/p/councillor-keith-morris-reconsider-sunday-parking-charges-in-deal.

What do you think of these plans for Sunday parking?

Email reporters Sam Lennon and Eleanor Perkins on slennon@thekmgroup.co.uk and eperkins@thekmgroup.co.uk.

Or write to the East Kent Mercury or Dover Mercury at, 13 Queen Street, Deal, Kent, CT14 6EX.

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