Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Parking fiasco

When I decided to name this blog “A view from Nelson Street” I had in mind taking the opportunity to comment on the Town and the activities of its council and therefore using the expression “view” metaphorically rather than literally. Little did I know that I would also have the chance to scrutinise the activities of Southend Council by simply looking out of my office window across Nelson Street.

Nelson Street is a picturesque road, close to the Town Centre but with an interesting history which gives an insight in to the proud history of the Town. However the road surface has deteriorated and is currently very poor resulting in it being featured in the road maintenance plans of the last Administration.

The months have passed and on the morning of Monday 23rd February signs appeared on lampposts in the street indicating that the parking bays had been suspended from 23rd February until 31st March for maintenance works to be undertaken. Quite an extended period to lose the income from well used parking bays.

The road is home to a number of professional firms as well as a Bank but no notice of the works or closures was given to any business in the street. To make matters worse there was no sign of any workmen or materials and no notices on the pay and display ticket machines located in the road. The lamp post signs were not obvious and unsurprisingly drivers continued using the bays and buying and displaying their parking tickets. Almost immediately the parking attendants appeared and tickets were issued to drivers. Why? If the intention was to suspend use even in the absence of any actual work would it not have been reasonable to put signs on the ticket machines as at least one person has bought a ticket before being warned as to the risk from a shout from our office window. Even a few parking cones to physically block the bays would have been easy to arrange.

Why suspend parking and lose income until necessary and was it unreasonable for the parking attendants to show some restraint where drivers were showing valid parking tickets? I raised the matter that morning with the Town Clerk and relevant Director (as did other firms in the road) but by Thursday nothing had changed – no sign of work, no better signage and tickets being issued to unsuspecting visitors. I raised it again and am pleased to confirm that officers responded swiftly and efficiently, suspending the restrictions until shortly before the commencement of the work, notifying offices in the road as to what is intended, and cancelling tickets issued during the week.

So eventually well done to officers but the buck for this fiasco must stop with the relevant portfolio holder Cllr Terry. Rather than spending his time searching for photo opportunities in the Echo perhaps he should be doing the job the Town pays him handsomely to perform.

In the meantime if they are going to muck up like this it is vaguely amusing that it should affect the road in the Town that houses the offices of 3 former leaders of the Council in myself, Charles Latham and David Dedman and previously the late Norman Clarke. Perhaps the lesson is that if anyone wants to be a leader of the Council in the future it is worth lining up a lease on offices in Nelson Street!

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