Westbrook Traders, Residents and Friends Group will stage a protest march against Thanet council’s proposed change of free parking bays to pay and display.
The seasonal charges were first proposed by the council in April last year as part of a three phase scheme.
Following the public outcry amendments were made to the scheme last October.
Thanet council said the revised scheme would bring in additional annual revenue of approximately £390k per year. The aim was to plug the gap left by cuts to council grants from central government.
The charges were approved by councillors at the end of last year.
Traders and residents in Westbrook and Westgate are also furious, saying the charges will “kill business.”
Many attended a meeting held at the Westgate Pavilion last night (May 24) to protest at the proposed charges.
The proposals would change the one hour limited free parking bays in Canterbury Road and Royal Crescent in Westbrook and Cuthbert, St Mildreds and Station Roads in Westgate.
Angry businesses and residents have already taken action with “Highway Robbery” posters appearing on sign posts across the area.
One trader told The Isle of Thanet News: “Making the free bays pay and display will kill trade in Westgate and Westbrook. This battle is ongoing.
“If this scheme goes through it will be a tragedy. Thanet council says it will stop people from parking there all day but they just need enforcement, they could fine 30 cars a day!”
One objection sent in to Thanet council criticised current parking enforcement and highlights the impact on businesses.
The writer says:
“Parking enforcement is already inadequately managed by TDC. The council does not have enough officers to carry out their duties and when Margate for example is at its busiest, (and most dangerous) parking contraventions occur- Saturdays, Sundays and primarily Bank Holiday Mondays – and, TDC has no-one working. If they did, the officers could make their salaries a thousand times over with the number of high revenue tickets which could be legitimately issued. So one suggestion is why not employ more car parking enforcement agents?
“The introduction of charges at Westgate for example, will adversely effect the local businesses in the town and will push shoppers to drive to areas where there is free parking e.g. Westwood Cross and the large major out of town supermarkets. The charges will also affect available parking for local residents.
“Westbrook changes, businesses located in this area are already struggling badly, as limited footfall there. Has TDC spoken to any business owner there to hear their concerns? This area is never full (unless it is the height of Summer or a busy Bank Holiday). Again introducing pay and display charges in this area will contribute to a loss of available parking for local residents and adversely affect local businesses. Westbrook is not a hive of activity (like the Old Town) so why would you want to make the situation worse for small business who are simply trying to survive?”
The writer also highlights the limited parking availability across the isle and says the plans “may discourage those on low incomes or those with families, from being able to visit the area. “
They add: “It would appear that TDC do not care about how local people are affected as your plans appear thoughtless and antagonistic and at the detriment of local people.
“Furthermore, if any of these changes take effect, will TDC clearly, and openly, publicise all revenue generated from these changes and where that money will be spent?”
The march will take place on the same day that councillors meet for the Joint Transportation Board, which will discuss the pay and display proposals, on June 7.
Traders and residents from Westgate, Westbrook and Minnis Bay will meet at 6pm at the Nayland Rock and walk to the Thanet council offices bearing wreaths.
Consultation on the changes runs until May 29.
How to comment
If you have any questions concerning the proposed orders contact either Kent County Council (03000 414141) or Thanet District Council (01843 577471) or at the addresses listed below.
All objections and other representations in respect of the proposed Order must be sent in writing to:
Uniformed Services Enforcement Manager, Council Offices, Cecil Street, Margate CT9 1XZ or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Tuesday, May 29.