Countdown begins for parking charges in Midhurst, Petworth, Witterings and Sesley

Fears of parking chaos in Midhurst have been voiced as controversial car park charging day looms on April 1.

D-Day for the introduction of charging in Midhurst coincides with an influx of some 100 builders at the Midhurst Rother College development site, the launch of the national park, and the start of the polo and tourist season.

“There is going to be a very, very serious shortfall of car parking space,” Steven Morley, chairman of Midhurst Town Council’s finance and general purposes committee, told fellow town councillors.

There is also confusion over the allocation of season permits which are not available to buy at CDC’s area office in Midhurst.

And George Marchant, chairman of the voluntary transport organisation Tandem, has warned unless there is exemption from payment for mini-buses and volunteer drivers, the future of the organisation could be threatened.

Now town councillors are hoping Chichester District Council’s parking manager Robert Clark will be able to allay their fears when he addresses their meeting on Monday, March 21.

“I imagine it’s a bit of a logistical nightmare for CDC, but it could well be a summer of misery for Midhurst residents and businesses alike,” said Mr Morley

“North Street car park is often full now. Soon, an army of contractors will be arriving to build our new school. Back across the road the polo season will be getting under way.

“The new recruits and visitors to the South Downs National Park are also due and summer tourists will be visiting the Cowdray Ruins and walled garden.

“And in case this doesn’t create enough pressure on parking in North Street, before summer ends the building of the new Grange is scheduled to start in our car park at the other end of town.”

He said many residents had expressed their concerns.

“I know the parking manager is actively looking for a solution. We therefore look forward to hearing his ideas and discussing them further. While we can’t now avoid the imposition of parking charges, I hope we can enable Midhurst to avoid a parking gridlock.”

Mr Marchant said he had been pressing for answers from Midhurst’s district councillors and from officers at CDC for months without success.

“I have no idea what is going to happen and the deadline is very close. If we can’t get exemption from paying car parking charges and we start to incur penalties, we are not going to be able to run a service,” he warned.

He said he was also concerned planners had not allowed for adequate numbers of minibus spaces in the new Grange car park to be provided alongside the new leisure centre.

“I’m told there will be four minibus spaces, but at least ten buses need to park.”

New pay and display machines being installed in car parks at Midhurst, Petworth and Selsey ready for introduction of charges at the previously free carparks,

The new charges from April 1 are:

Midhurst, North Street and Grange Road (including the Post Office car park): two hours free, then 20p per hour.

Petworth, Pound Street: an area allocated for up to one hour free parking, 20p for up to two hours, 60p for up to four hours and £1 for over four hours.

Selsey, East Street: two hours free, then 20p per hour.

Selsey Marine and East Beach: charges to be introduced between April and October. The first hour will be free, then £1 for any stays over an hour.

East Wittering, Northern Crescent: two hours free, £1 for up to three hours, £2 for up to four hours, with a maximum stay of four hours.

East Wittering, Marine Drive: this is a privately operated car park. A section will be designated as a free business car park.

The Sylvia Beaufoy car park in Petworth will continue to be free to park in.

A season ticket will cost £10 per month for each of the rural towns,

Season tickets can be purchased on a rolling monthly basis, from one to 12 months. Until the online system is up and running, tickets can be purchased over the phone, by fax, by email, by letter or in person from the parking office.

The parking office at 3 Market Road, Chichester is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

You can find out more by emailing the office at carparks@chichester.gov.uk or calling 01243 534500.