St Albans district parking permit restrictions to face scrutiny as part of review

A man struggles to make sense of the parking signs on Romeland Hill

A man struggles to make sense of the parking signs on Romeland Hill - Credit: Archant

A review of the district’s residential parking is being considered following concerns over the number of permits issued compared to available spaces.

Confusing parking signs on Romeland Hill

Confusing parking signs on Romeland Hill - Credit: Archant

Motorists living in the city’s Controlled Parking Zones are required to purchase permits for each of their vehicles - £53.06 for a first car, £186.77 for a second car and £339.59 for a third car.

But in some zones more permits are being sold than there are spaces, with no cap on the numbers despite the limited availability of parking bays in the city centre.

For example in Zone F - which includes Bernard Street, Church Street and Dalton Street - 251 permits are issued for 203 spaces, with other discrepancies in Zone N (223 for 204) and Zone C (255 for 215).

The practice has been condemned by one resident who spoke to the Herts Ad on guarantee of his anonymity: “We’ve had to pay two £35 parking tickets recently because it wasn’t possible to find a permitted space. We drove up every road to try and find one, and because there are no convenient alternatives outside the zone, we parked both times overhanging the end of a recently-shortened bay instead.

“I think that unless residents have a genuine reason for needing to park multiple cars nearby, such as a disability or a child care need, the price for second and third car permits should be priced prohibitively as a deterrent. Even £339.59 a year for parking is a ridiculously good deal compared to commercial car parking rates, especially if you can afford to keep three cars on the road.”

“My estimate is that we find a space about three or four times out of five, but that often involves parking two or three streets away, and still means around 20 per cent of the time as a minimum not being able to use a facility we have paid for - and being at risk of a ticket.

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“If you pay for parking it’s not unreasonable to expect to be able to use it on a better basis than luck.”

Peter Norman, who has been campaigning against parking restrictions in the “Ladder Roads” area of the city, north of Hatfield Road around Verulam School, said the figures were alarming: “The whole system seems to be a way of increasing revenues and, as in the case of the Ladder Roads proposals, the council is walking away from sorting out the root cause.

“What is really annoying is the attitude that, despite consulting the residents and finding the majority who responded to the survey against the proposals, the council and its officers seem hell bent on pursuing their ill-conceived project.”

The council has revealed plans for a public consultation on parking, but insists the discrepanices in permits is due to variations over the year.

Regulatory services manager Maria Stagg explained: “In managing parking permits, the parking team takes into accoun the movement of vehicles and turnover in parking spaces. This enables more parking permits to be issued than there are allocated space sin some zones.”

Head of community services Debbi White added: “Demand for parking spaces in some areas of the district is very high and has risen considerably in recent years. That is in part due to a national trend of increasing car ownership.

“In some Controlled Parking Zones, more residents have been eligible for permits and issued with one than there are available street parking spaces.

“In recognition of this, we make it clear when we issue a permit for a Controlled Parking Zone that it is no guarantee of a parking place. Our policy in this regard is in line with most other local authorities.

“Later this month, the council’s car parking working party will be looking at this issue when it considers a revised permit parking policy.

“There will be a public consultation when people can give their views on whether there should be more restrictions on permits and, if so, what form they should take.”