VOTE: Parking problems hit Midhurst hard

Parking problems in Midhurst were highlighted at Tuesday’s meeting of Chichester District Council – with a warning about their impact on the town’s economy.

Cllr Elizabeth Hamilton said complaints from local council tax payers unable to find a parking space in Midhurst were increasing.

“When will the town get the 60 extra spaces planned in the district parking strategy?” she demanded.

The local economy was on the up, with the National Park, and its headquarters coming, but lack of parking space could hinder growth.

“Will the extra spaces becoming available before the start of building the new Grange Centre?” Cllr Hamilton asked.

Cllr Derek James, portfolio holder for community safety, said parking in Midhurst was an on-going problem.

“The first thing we have to do is wait and see what difference charges will make from April 1,” he told the council. “I can’t pre-empt any possible outcomes, because we don’t know what the outcomes will be.”

There would be up to 60 extra spaces at the Grange, when the Grange was developed. “While it is being developed, emergency parking will have to be found,” Cllr James added.

They were actively looking for other sites, temporary or permanent, but this was not easy. “We have one or two places in mind, but I cannot say in public where they are,” he said.

Cllr Andrew Shaxson said they were all keeping their fingers crossed that there would be a magic solution on April 1, and car parks would suddenly empty and there would be spaces for the foreseeable future.

The site of the tennis courts had been referred to as the site of the 60 extra spaces next to the Grange.

What was preventing the council from taking the necessary planning action to ensure that if there was still a problem after April 1, it could hit the ground running and convert the area into parking in a very short period of time. Cllr James said they were not expecting any magic to happen on April 1.

But there were a number of commuters who used the all-day free parking, and it was hoped that when they had to pay they would not use the parking any longer.

“We still want to wait and see what effect charges will have before making a decision,” he declared. “It is not as straightforward as is being suggested.”