Tandridge District Council chose to ignore a petition with 5,435 signatures calling for two hours of free parking in Oxted and instead voted to bring in one hour of free parking.
The petition was organised jointly by the Oxted Traders Association and Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group, and was presented to the Council leader, Oxted Councillor Martin Fisher, by Oxted businesswoman, Barbara McNaughton-Khattri who owns Elements Hair and Beauty Salon.
Speaking to support the petition she said: “when you come to buy say stationery supplies or attend an appointment, or visit the health centre or library, you then wander along the High Street – see something in a shop that catches your eye, bump into a friend and pop into a restaurant or coffee shop – this is the routine for many, two or three times a week. Without two hours, you block that potential which is the culture and spirit of our community – we can all relate to that meter ticking mind-set that will cut short any shopping experience. I’m asking that you vote for our community…. to retain two hours free parking.”
Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group District Councillor, Jackie Wren, then put forward an amendment to alter the proposed one hour free parking to two hours. Councillor Wren and fellow OLRG Limpsfield District Councillor, Phil Davies, both made impassioned pleas for the free parking period to be increased to protect Oxted’s businesses.
Councillor Wren said afterwards: “It is very disappointing that the Council has not listened to the combined voice of business and residents. I was pleased that we managed to get earlier concessions increasing the original 30 minutes to one hour and dropping plans to charge on Saturdays, but two hour free parking is crucial and this decision is a smack in the teeth for Oxted. Sadly, the Council seems driven entirely by its need for money and its decisions are increasingly not in the interests of the local community.”
In a statement issued following the meeting the District Council said it agreed to take forward an ambitious regeneration programme for Oxted town centre, supported by income from parking charges.
As a result of the decision, consultation on all aspects of the multi-million pound Regeneration Oxted programme will begin on 25 May. This programme has four key aims:
1. Removal of the Oxted gasholder.
2. An Urban Redesign Project for Station Road East and West to help the town draw a wider variety of shops and make it more attractive.
3. More parking capacity and better enforcement.
4. Creation of a Business Hub.
The Council will work closely with the Oxted Business Improvement District (BID) to deliver these projects. The consultation will include plans for the Oxted gasholder site and proposals for additional parking capacity in Council owned car parks.
Residents will also be able to have their say about plans for the Urban Redesign project. These plans will be based on the conceptual designs prepared for the Oxted BID by designers Greer Pritchard, whose portfolio includes the 2012 Olympic Park site.
In its statement the Council said: “Councillors carefully considered the views of residents in a petition asking for two hours of free parking, however it was agreed this was not a financially viable option as it would not enable the delivery of the aims of the Regeneration Oxted programme. The Council agreed to support the recommendation of one hour of free parking to provide additional capacity, implement plans to make the town centre more attractive, support existing businesses and encourage new businesses to the town.”
The new parking charges will be introduced this summer. The Council will continue to work closely with the Oxted BID to regularly review parking arrangements so changes can be made quickly should they be needed.
Photos show Jackie Wren and Barbara McNaughton-Khattri.