Call for time-limited free parking near Broadstairs High Street ahead of council parking review

Parking in Thanet

By Kieron Day – third year journalism student at Liverpool John Moores University and Broadstairs resident.

A period of free parking or lower rates would help bring customers to Broadstairs High Street, say traders.

With trade still low following the pandemic and then a cost of living crisis, businesses say lowered or some free parking could revitalise the town.

Parking at spots close to the town, such as the harbour and Albion Street is £2.80ph during the peak Summer season, reduced to £1.10ph from November to March.

Further out at car parks including Vere Road the charge is £1.50ph. On Saturdays parking is free at St Peters Park Road Car Park.

A number of on-street parking places were lost in 2020 when double yellow lines were introduced in roads including Carlton Avenue and Pierremont Avenue. In the same year a trial scheme for 30 minutes free parking in Birchington’s main shopping area was introduced.

Traders say the lack of time-limited free parking means customers may decide to travel to Westwood Cross where there is free parking for shoppers for at least 1.5 hours and includes accessible spaces for those that require them.

Among those backing the idea for free parking is J Prentis Fruiterers & Greengrocers which has a shop at the lower end of Broadstairs High Street.

Kerry Prentis, who works between the different shop locations for the company, said: “Half an hour free parking would help a lot because people could run to the bank, run to Tesco’s, run in here and then go, and that would be good.

“Customers do [complain] because there’s never any places to park and the car park is too expensive. It is a congested town but they could do with lowering the rates of the car parks and then it would encourage them to come into town more instead going to a supermarket or Westwood Cross because it’s a competition for us all of the time.”

Staff at Broadstairs Herbal Apothecary on Harbour Street say a lack of free parking also reduces accessibility: “We’ve got old customers that say it used to be a lot easier but now it’s a lot more complicated, they’re not very happy.”

Recently opened arts and homeware store Coastal Creatives is also based at the lower end of the town. Owner Robert Quade said: “(People) should be shopping locally, I understand it because (Westwood Cross) provides free parking and parking right next to the shops whereas here you have to park a long way away and it’s expensive.”

The Little Art Gallery, in Eldon Place, has also experienced problems, partly prompting the decision to close at the end of this month after 20 years trading in the town.

The shop has been run by Vicki Griggs and a fellow artist since 2004 but a combination of challenges, including a drop in footfall, the lack of free parking and continuous road closures, have forced the difficult decision to close.

Vicki will keep the online shop and continue teaching, exhibitions and her popular paint and Prosecco parties but says it has become unviable to keep the property open.

Mum-of-two Vicki said: “It was a hard decision to make. I’m absolutely gutted because I put my heart and soul into it but we had to make the decision.

“Footfall has dropped off massively since covid and another thing affecting lots of shops is the constant road closures without adequate signage to say businesses are still open. There is also no free parking so if people have to pay a fortune to park that is going to mean a drop in footfall too.”

The issue is less evident for businesses at the top end of the High Street where there are more off-road spaces nearby.

Plantlet owner Izzi Brown said: “I am quite lucky in terms of where my shop is located because there’s lots of free parking just off the road opposite, so I feel like it doesn’t affect this end of town as much.”

Parking review

A Thanet District Council spokesperson said: “Parking across the district is something we’re reviewing this year.

“Current restrictions in Broadstairs reflect the need to provide safe places for people to park when accessing the town’s amenities whilst allowing for the free flow of traffic. We are responsible for enforcing parking restrictions and would encourage people to use designated parking bays and car parks.

“There are charges for these facilities, but we do operate year-round free parking on Saturdays in selected car parks across the district as well as time-limited free parking in certain spaces.”

In December Thanet council appointed Ethos Consultants, highway and transportation specialists, to prepare a strategic review of parking across the district.

Following the review, a new Parking Strategy will be developed to set out the future of parking requirements for the district, balancing residents’ needs with growing visitor numbers.

Ethos Consultants have been analysing parking data and an engagement exercise to gather feedback from members of the public is due to take place.

There will be 10 engagement events held during the development phase of the strategy. The sessions will be a mix of virtual and in person meetings, with some open to the general public. Targeted stakeholder sessions will also be held, involving local businesses and councillors.

The draft strategy will be presented to Cabinet for approval.

Cabinet Member with responsibility for parking, Cllr Heather Keen, said: “Our current parking infrastructure requires improvement, including car parks and on street parking. Working with Ethos will provide the specialist support we need to progress this and to make confident decisions around future investment.

“I would encourage local people to participate in our open engagement sessions when we begin the consultation. Understanding the needs of our customers is a priority to achieve a collaborative and joined up approach.”

Thanet council says advances in technology mean there will be more options for parking payment and car park management to explore.

52 Comments

  1. I don’t know why it’s so expensive to park in Thanet. I work a lot in London and I can park ALL day in Notting Hill for £4 yes the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

    • We can but wonder how much money TDC has wasted on employing external consultants to tell it how to organise public parking in the area foe which TDC is responsible ?

      And how much more money is to be wasted by holding ten consultation meetings (undoubtedly attended by said consultants (at even more cost) to deflect the flack from TDC) ?

      • It appears that TDC are the architects of the demise of our towns ; especially Ramsgate ; when it is plain and obvious banks, businesses large and small , are giving up. High parking fees = few if any brave soul using the town. As Westwood X is a success with free parking it does not take a genius to perhaps use some of the vast amount of business rate income gained from Westwood X to subsidise the regeneration of our towns. TDC & RTC have stood by and done nowt to support our traditional tiwns sadly 😢

        • nothing is ‘free’ – parking may be free to customers but the costs are ultimately covered by businesses and they have to get those costs back through economies and prices

          • Dear Ellen, you are quite right. I clearly remember the sheds / warehouses being erected , and TDC were saying they would NOT be retail outlets . We can all see that their statement was fanciful at best ; we just laughed as it was crystal clear that it would be retail. If a plan had been put in place for our historic towns to survive , it would not be the total disaster we now experience . We do have to take note that when the Council states what it’s 10 year plan is for our area that it is just that — a 10 year plan – which in truth gives our planners an awful lot of scope 🤔

  2. “Customers do [complain] because there’s never any places to park and the car park is too expensive”

    It sounds like parking needs to be more expensive to free up spaces. Perhaps 30 mins free (with a ticket or registration) otherwise enforcement would struggle to regulate. But thereafter more expensive.

  3. I tend to only go to Westwood cross now, parking charges are ridiculous in Thanet now. I used to enjoy going to Churchill’s above the harbour in Ramsgate, now an extortionate pay and display machine makes a pint very expensive, and Broadstairs is the same.. High parking charges kill high streets.

  4. It’s a dilemma for TDC. The Council needs money to provide services to all residents of Thanet but as soon as there are any cutbacks to try and balance the income they have, everyone complains.

    Shops need customers who say they want free or cheaper parking. Kerry Prentiss is suggesting half an hour free parking but then says “Customers do [complain] because there’s never any places to park” so free parking will only exacerbate that.

    I think a one day (24 hour) charge of say £5 (??) to cover all of Thanet would be a good option to include in the new charges as I tend to do all my shopping / chores in one day.

    I go to Westgate more than Broadstairs simply because it is free parking for an hour.

    And Mike – please let us know where this parking is in Notting Hill as I have never found parking that cheap in London.

    • Not really a dilemma , be more efficient and less incompetent in other areas of the councils dealings and you could quite easily give an hours free parking across the whole isle. That would enable the high streets to survive. £5 for across isle parking for a day, no thanks , straight to WX and pay nothing will be the result of such a policy. Would also reduce the amount of car journeys across the isle , which given the congestion we get at times , is no bad thing.

  5. TDC do not give a fig about the Thanet towns since it ushered in Westwood X. I doubt there are many ; if any ; business people as Councillors so it is above and beyond their brain power to understand that any visitors to our towns must be astonished to find them virtual Ghost Towns. High parking fees- Traffic Wardens lurking in shop doors ready to slap a ticket on any errant motorist- unviable shops – banks fast disappearing- one way systems or closed roads – all anti business and not one thing to entice coustomers or traders . They may just as well erect signs at each town approach with a sign saying – Extortionate Parking Fees Here — But very close is Westwood X where there is Free Parking and few empty shops – with the added bonus of No Traffic Wardens – 🤔🤔🤔

    • I heard recently that TDC initially refused WWX plans because it would destroy our towns. But it was overturned on appeal because at the time Central Gvt were pushing the idea of developing out of town retail/town centres. And now we are lumbered with it. And the impact on the town centres is tragic.

  6. Why should this be just for Broadstairs ? This has to be rolled out across All of Thanets high streets as we are all suffering it isn’t an anomoly unique to Broadstairs. To be honest Broadstirs does better than any other High street on the island.

  7. Tdc needs to first decide whether its parking policies are for the good of the area and its residents or purely revenue generation. Wanting everone to pay via an app is just plain wrong, if the council can’t maintain the machines to accept cash then they lose revenue it’s not the motorists fault ( that the turn away from cash was the result of theft by operatives several years ago, is again not the motorists fault) It’s turned very much to the latter in recent years and made worse by wanting to make the admin as easy as possible.
    The resident parking schemes have become pretty expensive especially in terms of visitor permits, the old days of buying a book of 20 tickets that had no expiry replaced by a labrynthine on line system that means you have expensive one day permits or bulk buy that has the tickets expire at the end of the financial year.
    There can surely be no reasonable excuse for having visitor permits that run out before use.
    Westgate seems to have the best arrangement, but it probably works well because , there are plenty of parking spaces compared to number of shops and because it’s one hour free the wardens rarely visit.

  8. A couple of points. What is wrong with walking or catching the bus? No worry about parking or parking fees.
    The average car journey is about eight and half miles, but that disguises the fact that at least a quarter of all car journeys are under 2 miles, and could be walked or cycled.
    One interviewee stated that 30 minutes free parking would give someone the time to shop and ‘go to the bank’.Which bank would that be in Broadstairs?
    Upping car parking charges only delivers more cash to TDC on off street parking.On street parking which is under discussion here, is supposed to be recycled into transport improvements.
    There are too many cars for the Victorian/Georgian road systems of Thanet to cope with, and sooner or later, we will need to use the car in a more discriminating way.
    All local govt is in financial distress and they are all looking for savings, and ways to raise more cash.
    Westwood Cross is not free, it is paid for by higher prices in the shops.It is also one of the most dreadfully badly planned piece of urban sprawl in the country.It is so bad,that it is now in planning text books as the way not to plan a
    conurbation.So anyone who thinks its a great place, better think again.
    I know ‘Concerned’ in all his formats hates TDC, and thinks they are beyond the pale,and I would agree that their days should be numbered, but relying on this Central govt to do anything about it, is a lost cause.This govt are in trapped in ceaseless fight within itself.

    • Quite right,George.Why don’t people leave their mobility aids at home and try doing a bit of walking.I can manage it and I am no spring chicken,so why can’t others?
      I await all the excuses for not walking.

    • A brilliant analysis.
      If those of us who didn’t absolutely depend on a car used the bus or walked or cycled, it would a) encourage Stagecoach to run more services and b) free up parking for those who *really* need it.
      It is really naive to think that parking at WWX is “free”. Someone has to pay the business taxes and upkeep and maintenance of the car parks, and it sure isn’t Tescos, Wicks, Sainsburys etc. It’s passed on to the customer. And that seems unfair for people who use WWX but don’t drive.
      Be part of the solution, not the problem. Leave your car at home.

  9. We recently went to Folkestone and Herne bay, both towns the seafront on street parking is free for 4 hours out of season till April, and other parking near the shops in both towns is free for one hour and free all day on Sundays!

  10. Any free parking on High Streets has to be for a minimum of 2 hours. Just 1 hour is counter productive, as people tend to essential shopping without visiting cafes, art shops, etc.

  11. i notice ramsgate has not got it ? but then who would want to shop in ramsgate – most of the shops and banks have shut down.

  12. Peter Checksfield needs to attain a degree of maturity and to understand that the people he’s writing about in these comments are not allimmune to his nastiness.And he should drop the ridiculous and insulting pretence of being a woman.

    I do not appreciate being likened to either a chocolate sweet or a small piece of faeces.

  13. Don’t know why people of Thanet are worried about parking charges, when Polly Billington gets her ULEZ scheme up and running in Thanet, we all will be catching the Bus.

    • Does Ms Billington have such a scheme in mind?
      As an MP, rather than a County Councillor, will it matter what she thinks about ULEZ?
      Shouldn’t we all embrace ULEZ? Or is it acceptable that thousands die prematurely each year, just as long as entitled motorists are not impeded in their universal and inalienable absolute right to do just what they want?

      • We’re closing British steel works to achieve “net zero”, while importing more steel from the other side of the world. It’s all a massive con. At least the big American car companies are scrapping their electric cars, as the public over there aren’t falling for it.

        • Anthropogenic Climate Change is not a “big con”
          It is a most grave world-wide issue with far reaching consequences for humankind at the very least.
          This season so far the UK has seen 9 storms. Tonight the whole country will be swept by 80mph gales. A few weeks ago, vast parts of the South West were under water.
          Last year the planet was the hottest on record.
          Climate records (whether for temperature, rainfall or wind) are broken with increasing frequency.
          There is no doubt that climate is changing because of the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.
          There is no doubt that, since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been (and still are) burning fossil fuels at an increasing rate.
          World-wide, humans will have to radically change the way they live.
          Currently, in order to enjoy the lifestyle experienced in Europe, the resources of 5 Earths are required.
          To live as they do in the USA would require 25 Earths.
          That clearly isn’t sustainable.

          • It’s a con if the problem is moved elsewhere. A bit like the building on farms in Thanet, and bringing in food from elsewhere.

  14. Using the Loop bus is an horrendous experience too. Waiting at some stops for 15 minutes just so a mobility scooter can reverse park in a bay occupied by people asked to vacate with nowhere to go because people are also standing up. The buses aren’t really designed for them.

    An hour to go from North down Road to WWX counterclockwise? Really?

  15. Just ban all vehicles from all of thanet that will stop the parking problem ..keep emergency service vehicles only .. just being Frank

  16. I enjoy going by bus , and the Loop is the best service here. The others need to improve- bus services should all be re-nationalized.

      • You keep referring to “M&M”
        But there is no one of that name posting here.
        Is you eyesight suffering? Do you have trouble typing at your keyboard?? Are you more than a little confused by identity???

        • Yes, my eyeseight is bad – due to them watering so much when I changed gender. Still got them in the freezer.

    • Quite right.
      Since Covid far too many bus services have been cut to the bone or removed altogether.
      It’s almost impossible to travel by bus at weekends or in the evenings. So going to the Marlowe in Canterbury, for example, necessitates using the more 3xpensive train.

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