RESIDENTS braved the snow to pack Cirencester’s Corn Hall last night to make their voices heard on parking in the town.
The special meeting of Cirencester Town Council – which was held at the Corn Hall rather than the usual venue of the Bingham hall to allow as many residents as possible to attend – was called to discuss the Cirencester Parking Review proposed by the Cirencester Parking Partnership (CPP).
The Partnership is made up of representatives from the town council, Cirencester Chamber of Commerce, Cotswold District Council and Gloucestershire County Council and has been working to improve on-street and off-street parking facilities in the town for both residents and visitors.
Among the suggestions made are to widen the area residents with on-street permits can use and restructuring charges at car parks, but last night’s meeting heard many residents had serious concerns about the proposals.
Around 100 residents attended the meeting and many spoke to express their concerns about the plans.
Philip Becklerlegge of Park Street said he believed the proposals should not be considering both on-street and off-street parking at the same time.
“If the car parks in the town were used to the full there would not be a problem with the street parking,” he said.
“If they were more user-friendly people would use them more.
“The people of Cirencester are looking at this council to take the clear decision that these proposals for on-street parking should be rejected.”
He also suggested the council ask CDC to introduce a period of free parking at all council-run car parks, as well as widening the proposals to reduce charges at Cirencester’s Beeches Car Park to all car parks in the town.
Cllr Deryck Nash said he agreed with Mr Beckerlegge’s ideas and would propose them at the next town council meeting.
Carolyn Jones of Querns Lane said residents felt “screwed over” by the way CDC operated car parks in the town.
“It seems to me that CDC have used car parking in Cirencester to subsidise the council tax across the whole district,” she said. Iain Hamilton of Ashcroft Road said he was unhappy with the way GCC had handled on-street parking in the town. “There’s a question of fairness here,” he said.
“Three years ago I was paying £40 a year for parking on Ashcroft Road – now I’m paying £80 for exactly the same facility.
“If you’re going to charge for resident’s parking, those residents should have the same facilities as everyone else.”
Other concerns heard included that residents had not been given a say on the proposals and that too many parking permits were being issued for each street, meaning even those with them were often unable to park near their homes.
Presenting the report to the packed meeting, town council chief executive Andrew Tubb said he had been extremely impressed by the amount of “reasoned and sensible” correspondence he had received from residents.
Deputy mayor Cllr Joe Harris described the CPP review as “bumbling” and was concerned residents had not been fully consulted about the plans.
“Parking charges are too high and people don’t want to pay them,” he said.
“We need to say to the CPP that enough is enough – you’ve got to listen to what we want.”
Newly elected town councillor Mark Harris said he agreed that a priority should be to make sure the town’s car parks are fully used.
“Only when issues with off-street parking are resolved in Cirencester and the car parks are full and we are forced to park on the street should we be considering on-street parking at all,” he said.
At the end of the meeting a straw poll was held showing residents were almost unanimously against the plans.
The council voted unanimously to reject the proposals and to ask for a full public consultation to take place before any further plans are made, to loud applause from the public.