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Strood resident left furious after decades-late decision by Medway Council to revoke parking permits

A pensioner says he has been left stranded and may have to “break the law” after a council decided to revoke his parking privileges in a decades-late U-turn.

Richard Payne and his neighbours have been told they will no longer be able to purchase permits for their homes due to a “human error”.

Resident, Richard Payne says the removal of permits will leave him with nowhere to park
Resident, Richard Payne says the removal of permits will leave him with nowhere to park

Tucked away in a side road off the A228 – between Strood and the Sans Pareil roundabout – are 16 houses with little to no room for parking.

Richard, who has lived in Florence Street for more than 20 years, told KentOnline: “The road is made of bricks and mud – it’s like an alleyway.”

Since moving there in 2002, he has been purchasing a £35 yearly resident permit from Medway Council and parks his car within the postcode area as allowed.

But earlier this week letters were sent out to residents informing those living on the quiet backstreet they will no longer enjoy such privileges.

It reads: “Upon completing an audit we realise that your residential parking permit has been issued to you in error.”

The letter also forbids the purchase of a daily visiting voucher which costs £2.

It adds: “As this error was made by us, Medway Council, we will allow you to continue to use your permit until it expires in April 2024.

“Once it has expired, we will not be renewing the permit as your address is not entitled to either a residential permit or daily visitor vouchers.”

But with no long-term solution provided by Medway Council, Richard says he will be left with no choice but to “break the law” and illegally leave his car in controlled parking zones.

“I’m too old, I don’t work and I can’t get a mortgage,” he said. “I have no recourse. I have nowhere to go with this.

A delivery van takes up the entire road width
A delivery van takes up the entire road width
There are 16 houses in Florence street but limited space for cars
There are 16 houses in Florence street but limited space for cars

“I can’t put my car in a public car park because my insurance would not cover that and because it would be prohibitively expensive.”

Without the permit, the only place he can legally park is directly outside his home but this is not a viable option given its tight design.

“The street is too narrow for motor vehicles and too unmade,” Richard, 71, explained.

“At the moment I have never parked in this street because it is completely unsuitable.”

The street is a dead end which proves difficult for turning a car around, and delivery drivers who come daily often take up the entire road width.

Richard added: “It’s dangerous to come into the street because if you drive in, you would have to reverse out into the main road, and if you reverse in, then you would have to carry out an illegal manoeuvre in order to get into the street.

“Why would the council take a decision that would lead to so much stress for the residents and the loss of parking income generated?

Resident and pensioner, Richard Payne
Resident and pensioner, Richard Payne

“Why would they not want my £35 a year? Why inflict this pain on people?”

According to the letter, the council’s reasoning for revoking the parking passes is due to an auditing issue which hasn’t been picked up for decades.

It further explains the issuing of permits to residents was a “human error” and residents are not eligible for them as it is a private road.

But Richard says long before this issue arose he had lobbied for the council to adopt the street but had been refused.

According to the resident, Medway council would only agree if all 16 of them paid £4,000.

Richard, who suffers from high blood pressure, says the actions of the local authority have placed immeasurable stress upon both him and his wife.

“I’m really not breathing properly at the moment – this is really an intolerable situation,” he added.

Richard continued: "My first impression of Florence Street, upon first viewing this house for the first time was just how unsafe the street was due to parking overcrowding; and decided to walk away there and then.

"However, upon Speaking to the owners of the property that has now become our home, we were assured that permits to park in the surrounding area were obtainable from the local council.

"I decided to check with the local council prior to purchase, and sure enough, they confirmed that both yearly and daily permits were available for our street and postcode."

A Medway Council spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, the parking permit was previously issued in error - as this is a private street Medway Council does not have responsibility for the road, or parking arrangements. However, we will be honouring the existing permits until they expire.”

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