I LOOK out from my window on the large, dirty, white camper van that has been parked in a one hour zone for the last three months. It avoids a parking ticket as it displays a disability badge.
Abandoned for the winter, it takes up a valuable space near a centre for disabled people. Then again, in the seaside town where I live, parking is at such a premium that there are 49 people on the waiting list for a season ticket to my local car park. Realistically, that is a wait of 39 years. No wonder the van owner dumps his old bus on the street.
Having bought a resident’s pass, I was told I could park in Zone W. Sadly for me, this zone is in the middle of the town. Most of the streets are exempt from residents’ passes and those that allow parking are usually full 24-7. The one street that is allowed a pass is always full of people from the local hotels using scratch cards.
So much so that it is not unusual to have to park a mile away out of the zone. I have even considered parking in the supermarket car park on the far side of town and taking the bus service to get back home. I now move my car only when it is essential and sometimes avoid driving all week in school holidays.
Traffic Enforcement Officers give residents little discretion with tickets slapped on cars for the most minor infringement. One person along the terrace even uses a police ‘no waiting’ cone to stop people parking outside their house.
This kind of parking problem is played out in towns and villages throughout Yorkshire.
The question here is how does the council please both residents and tourists and satisfy all of our needs?
The answer is that they don’t.
The feeling of my neighbours who have lived here a lot longer than me is that the council isn’t really bothered. The new park and ride doesn’t seem to help matters, especially at £5 for a family bus ticket. Visitors want to be as near to the town centre and the local amenities as possible. The car is king and the needs of local residents go overlooked.
What the council forgets is that local residents keep the shops going when the tourists have gone. We pay our council charge and get little back and if you mention the words ‘residents only parking’ they will laugh in your face.
One thing is certain, the town where I live needs visitors to survive and I welcome them with open arms. But how do we make those who live here all year long feel welcome when they have to abandon their shopping bags by the kerbside and then move their car a mile before walking back home on a wet Wednesday afternoon?
The local council seems to be obsessed with raising finance through parking charges at roughly £1.50 per hour in my nearest car park, an amount that would certainly put me off if I came to visit.
In Scarborough, that rises to £2 per hour on the Marine Drive. In comparison, St Ives in Cornwall charges £2 for two hours and £6 for 10 hours in a town where parking is far scarcer than in Yorkshire.
The answer, I believe, is quite simple. All the council has to do is allow permit holders to park in all streets and decrease the staying time for on-street parking for visitors. This would encourage drivers to park in council car parks. A lowering of the fees would also increase use and stop it being such a bitter pill that puts visitors off returning.
Parking should be seen as a service to the community and not as a means of putting cash in the bank. If councils want to put tourists off, all they have to do is put up the price of parking. Local residents have to be catered for.
If it is good enough for York to have residents-only parking, then why not Whitby or Bridlington? Those of us who have chosen not to allow our houses to become second homes for the rich should be able to park within a reasonable distance of our front doors or even in the next street and not the other side of town.
As spring approaches, the parking problems throughout the county will get worse. Action has to be taken that balances the needs of the residents and the needs of visitors. For me, it is quite simple. Allow the visitors to park in reasonably priced public car parks and let the residents park in the streets where they live.
GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster from Scarborough.