Moves to bring back Midhurst parking restrictions

Business as usual at the new market square ''Picture by Louise Adams C131079-1
Business as usual at the new market square ''Picture by Louise Adams C131079-1

MIDHURST town councillors are pressing for restrictions to be reintroduced around Market Square after concerns that neighbouring residents are laying claim to car parking spaces.

Parking restrictions were removed in South Street and Red Lion Street during major enhancement work to the Market Square which was completed last year.

Town councillors believed the removal of restrictions was temporary but were surprised to discover they had been made permanent.

John Quilter told fellow members of the council’s finance and general purposes committee some residents had become quite ‘aggressive’ in defending the parking spaces for themselves.

“I parked in South Street recently and was approached by a resident who said ‘do you have to park there’.

“The implication was clear that they wanted to keep the spaces and the time has come to sort this out. It is getting quite ridiculous.

“The assumption is that it is residents’ parking space and cars are parked there day after day. It was never the intention to remove residents parking from the square to the streets around it.”

He said there was a danger visitors would go elsewhere if they were discouraged from parking and described the attitude of some residents as “appalling.”

Council chairman John Etherington said he believed restrictions should be re-applied as they were before the Market Square was refurbished.

“It is not helping trade in that part of the town,” he said, “shoppers used to be able to pull over and shop for short periods and now they can’t park because the spaces are always clogged up by people parking long term.”

He said the situation was currently a ‘total hotch-potch’ and most of the businesses in the old part of the town wanted the restrictions to be reinstated as they were in 2010.

Chairman of the finance and general purposes committee, Steve Morley told councillors residents had gained permanent parking in nearby Edinburgh Square, but suddenly it had emerged in other new places as well.

“We all thought restrictions would be reinstated at the end of the works in Market Square,” he said, “and so we were all very surprised to find that they were not.

“It was delivered to us as a fait accompli and it should be put back as it was before.

“I think we should lean on our county councillor, Gordon McAra, to take this matter up on our behalf.”

Town clerk Joan Hursthouse warned restrictions would not be reinstated in the near future.

The proposal would have to go before West Sussex County Council’s local committee for approval and then sit on a traffic regulation order priority list for implementation.

Mr Etherington pointed out: “They didn’t ask us when the county council took the traffic regulation order off.

“It was just gone overnight.”

Carol Lintott told fellow members of the committee she believed car parking spaces in Edinburgh Square near the former Crown pub could be left without restrictions.

The £430,000 enhancement scheme in the ancient Town Trust owned square was completed and officially opened in August last year.

It had been ten years in the planning but the opening meant the Town Trust had been able to realise its dreams of bringing life back to historic core of the town.

The removal of car parking and new paving created an open area which the Town Trust now want to use as an amenity for commercial markets, groups activities, displays and cultural events.