Archive for July, 2018

The Community Centre and Parking!

The name proposed for the settlement on the South side of the River Arle was originally “Newmarket” – as the Bishops of the time, planned the town as a marketplace, where people would visit to trade and buy goods. That was Bishop De Lucy, I believe. But the people who established the new settlement mainly came from the village on the north bank, now called Old Alresford. They therefore felt that a better name would be “New Alresford”, and adopted that instead. Action by popular demand, even in the C11th! It was almost democracy.

The town has thrived on its large market, in Broad Street, still maintained today by the Town Trust. But the traders and restaurants and shopkeepers of Alresford have perpetuated the approach, and Alresford today is known as a good place to go to, to visit and buy things, where visitors are welcomed, and parking is free.

Indeed the old statutes of the Bailiffs and Burgesses that ran the town until 1890 have been passed down to the NATT, the Town Trust, who own the rights to the parking and activities in the market area, ie Broad Street. So if parking fees were ever introduced, any revenues generated would probably go to the Town Trust.

The modern view

In 2018 the whole idea seems to be turning itself on its head. The traders in the town continue to rely on visitors arriving, these days, in their cars. There are shops to provide services to many sections of society, and with parking available they can ensure a short walk to the destination, short enough to carry possibly heavy shopping back to the car. Many OAPs rely on this for groceries, meat and fish, producing heavy shopping bags. Ladies in high heels can visit the boutiques and dress shops, and then have a coffee nearby. The car parks at the station and at Perins are well used, and no distance.

Surprisingly the car park at the ARC, up Pound Hill, is really not well used, and has many spaces during the week. The town plan, driven by the NATC, is investing millions in a new car park in the Dean, knocking down three factories, but the spaces will probably be mostly used by the residents of the new McCarthy and Stone retirement flats that are probably financing the whole thing. Meanwhile all the traders in the town park their cars in the spaces they would like their potential customers to use, in the town centre. When the Traffic Warden arrives they miraculously shift their cars to the station car park or similar.

Even more recent events

I hesitate to be too biased in commenting about controversial things, but I don’t drive an SUV, and my car easily fits into a standard parking place.

Driving around any town, you see spaces marked out with white lines, identified as disabled spaces. You know that this is near a place where disabled people have to alight safely, and you do not block these spaces, unless you are sitting in the car, able to move it if the space is needed. These are not legally designated disabled bays: but it is requesting your co-operation as a responsible member of society.

So we come to the two spaces marked as disabled outside the Community Centre. These are useful to the town, as they are also outside the banks that remain, and drivers can use them for 5 minutes while visiting the bank, particularly if they leave the car supervised. They are “Drop-off” points.

The Community Centre is one of the jewels of Alresford. It provides a meeting point, and a rest centre, for residents visiting the shops, and the parking spaces provide a pick up point for shopping bags, once the shopping is finished. This can be seen every Friday morning, when the town Minibus brings around 30 OAPs and mobility-challenged people into town for a weekly shop. They visit the Banks, Tesco, the Pet Shop, the butchers and the chemists. Plus the greengrocers, the library and the card shops/gift shops. The more affluent visit Heidi’s and the Age Concern charity shop. It is unlikely many of them visit Fitique – maybe the session times don’t match.

The Chamber of Commerce

It then appears that leading members of the Chamber of Commerce, the successors of course to the Bailiffs and Burgesses that ran the town until the 1890s, but the various Acts of Parliament took away their powers, took exception to the Town Minibus that reserved two disabled spaces on a Friday morning, for at most 4 hours. They felt this was preventing custom for their businesses, and say many businesses agreed. Which ones do not benefit, one wonders, from the 30 OAPs that come in in those four hours to spend their money? Four hours, two spaces, with a parking max time of two hours – that means four cars could have driven into town and spent their money, contrasted with the 30 pensioners who did come.

It is my opinion that the benefit resulting from four SUVs, spending their money in sessions in Fitique or the various boutiques and coffee shops, would not meet the benefit to the town’s shops from the 30 OAPs. But if it takes 30 cars to come into town, to deliver these pensioners, separately, and block the roads while discharging and collecting them, then I am prepared to arrange it.

The NATC and HCC response

It seems that HCC has been quick to respond, and is circulating suggestions that it should start to charge for parking in the town, covering all parking spaces. Worse still for the traders, they would propose a residents parking pass system that would charge peanuts for residents to park in the town, and block the parking spaces that seem so important to the Chamber of Commerce, that they are prepared to go to the extreme of proposing banning the town minibus from the town centre.

Overall, the town is descending into selfish, suicidal madness!

Nick Denbow

  • Any opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author alone.
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