Cautious welcome for concessions on new Swanley parking charges

News Shopper: The charges as they are will stay in place until next month. The charges as they are will stay in place until next month.

SWANLEY residents, shop workers and councillors have broadly welcomed new concessions on parking charges in the town centre.

But there is still frustration shopping centre and Nightingale Way car park owners Development Securities decided to introduce the charges in the first place.

The car park was free until signs and parking meters suddenly appeared on November 5 with drivers having to pay the new charges from the day after.

It still costs 50p for an hour, £2 for three hours and £3 to park all day at the site which serves the shopping centre as well as the Cedars and Oaks doctors’ surgeries.

But from January the hourly rate will halve to 25p, shopping centre employees will be allowed to park all day for £2 and Blue Badge holders will get the three hours free parking they were previously denied.

The regular all day rate will go up to £3.50 while the £100 fine for not paying - reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days - remains. 

A petition against the charges at Wilkinson has been signed by more than 400 people.

Cashier Jo Hare, 44, drives in from Crockenhill five times a week to do 12 to 15 hours work.

News Shopper:

The Nightingale Way car park serves the shopping centre. 

She told News Shopper: “What we really wanted was a discount for people who have to work here so we’ve got that.

“But when you get £74 a week and you have to pay £10 for a week’s car parking it’s crazy.

“They have found a way to cover themselves and we end up paying.”

Labour group leader on Swanley Town Council Mark Fittock said the concessions were a “significant move in the right direction” but branded Development Securities’ reason for bringing the charges in “off the wall”.

The company claims the cost of monitoring anti-social behaviour at the centre meant they had to bring in charges at a car park which had long been free.

The revenue is to help pay for newly installed CCTV and other measures, including security guards, aimed at dealing with groups of youths said to congregate in the area.

News Shopper:

Wilkinson cashier Jo Hare. 

Conservative member for Christchurch ward Victor Southern defended the company.

He said: “The deal we have is 95 per cent better than what we were suddenly presented with.

“It’s regrettable but I think in the end we came out of it a lot better than expected.”

Development Securities spokesman Matt Potter said: “We are confident this new schedule of charges is a fair compromise between ourselves, the residents of Swanley and most importantly, the tenants at our shopping centre.

“Our priority remains to ensure the future success of Swanley shopping centre for its tenants and shoppers.”

Your views 

News Shopper:

Kate Steer, 31, of Church Road, Bexleyheath, works in business support based at United House in Goldsel Road, Swanley.

“They should just get rid of the charges altogether as it has been free for so long.

“I don’t think it’s going to work. You can park at Aldi but by the time you have found a space, parked up and walked into town your lunch break is gone.”

News Shopper:

Brian Booker, 77, is a retired taxi driver living in Multain Hill, Swanley, who uses the car park six times a week.

“I am pleased they will respect Blue Badge holders but the charges are affecting the town centre because normally the car park would be full up but now it’s not.”

News Shopper:

Brian Dethidge, 80, is a retired postman who lives in Penshurst Close, West Kingsdown, and has a Blue Badge as his wife Marion, 73, is in a wheelchair.

“It’s disgusting you can’t use a Blue Badge but I’ll be very happy when they change it.

“They need to because there are a hell-of-a lot of people moaning about it. “You have got to think of the people who shop here.”

Comments (3)

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9:15pm Mon 9 Dec 13

disgruntres says...

as I have said previously, drivers who used the car park were surely not responsible for any vandalism in the centre. I feel this is not a valid reason for the sudden introduction of these charges. The car park has been free for many years and should continue to be so. Many people have indicated that it is a reason to stay away from Swanley in order to shop, once gone they will not return. What hope for the centre then?The final step should be to totally rescind the charges immediately.If the postman cannot for any reason make a delivery, we should not have to park in Asda's free park, whilst not buying anything there,rather than pay in the centre carpark for the privellege of collecting post from the sorting office. However, a further small step in the right direction could possibly be, as in other areas, to have free parking at the weekends, but this would not help patients attending the surgeriesand pharmacies.Totally free parking is really the only solution and we, the residents of Swanley must not be sidetracked, and continue to keep an active voice for FREE parking in the centre.May be the best Christmas present could be the removal of all the signs and a return to normal service!!
as I have said previously, drivers who used the car park were surely not responsible for any vandalism in the centre. I feel this is not a valid reason for the sudden introduction of these charges. The car park has been free for many years and should continue to be so. Many people have indicated that it is a reason to stay away from Swanley in order to shop, once gone they will not return. What hope for the centre then?The final step should be to totally rescind the charges immediately.If the postman cannot for any reason make a delivery, we should not have to park in Asda's free park, whilst not buying anything there,rather than pay in the centre carpark for the privellege of collecting post from the sorting office. However, a further small step in the right direction could possibly be, as in other areas, to have free parking at the weekends, but this would not help patients attending the surgeriesand pharmacies.Totally free parking is really the only solution and we, the residents of Swanley must not be sidetracked, and continue to keep an active voice for FREE parking in the centre.May be the best Christmas present could be the removal of all the signs and a return to normal service!! disgruntres

9:40pm Tue 10 Dec 13

cherished says...

Well since the charges have been in place, I've made a point of getting my shopping in shops nearer to my workplace, rather than the stop off I used to do on the way home! The car parks appear to be only halffull when I have driven past, hopefully the company are not making as much as they thought. Agree to the charges being totally removed!!
Well since the charges have been in place, I've made a point of getting my shopping in shops nearer to my workplace, rather than the stop off I used to do on the way home! The car parks appear to be only halffull when I have driven past, hopefully the company are not making as much as they thought. Agree to the charges being totally removed!! cherished

4:31pm Sat 14 Dec 13

disgruntres says...

I am sure there are other people like me who as a matter of principle refuse to use the centre ar park and pay.Unless I am actually going into Asda to shop morally I feel I can't use their free car park.Therefore today I choose not to go up to the centre and did without. Before anyone points out that it was my fault I agree but principle overcame the retail need and the centre shops lost out.It would appear that as there are fewer comments to this post, than to the previous last week, that maybe the call for FREE parking is loosing momentum.We must not let this happen.Let us continue to urge for an immediate return to what has been FREE parking for many years.Swanley residents deserve a voice.
I am sure there are other people like me who as a matter of principle refuse to use the centre ar park and pay.Unless I am actually going into Asda to shop morally I feel I can't use their free car park.Therefore today I choose not to go up to the centre and did without. Before anyone points out that it was my fault I agree but principle overcame the retail need and the centre shops lost out.It would appear that as there are fewer comments to this post, than to the previous last week, that maybe the call for FREE parking is loosing momentum.We must not let this happen.Let us continue to urge for an immediate return to what has been FREE parking for many years.Swanley residents deserve a voice. disgruntres

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