Campaigner Teddy Cranmer hand delivered the letters to County Hall in Exeter – 255 last Friday and a further 75 this week – after distributing letters around the town for residents and businesses to fill in.
He said: “With the letters I’ve handed in and others I’ve been told have been sent online there are at least 500 opposing letters to the proposed restrictions. There’s an unknown number who’ve contacted the county solicitor independently. There’s also more than 100 members in a Facebook group against the measures and councillors fighting our corner. We trust Devon Council will take due notice of the town’s comments concerning these proposals.
“Dartmouth is near gridlock, especially in the summer months and many are deterred from visiting and working in the town. Many residents are faced with the equivalence of motoring musical chairs every few hours, and these new proposals will make the situation worse.”
In response to requests from residents and businesses Devon County Council has earmarked restrictions to parking in ten areas of the town, including Higher Street, Flavel Place, North Embankment and Victoria Place – proposals that would remove up to 40 all-day parking spots in the town.
The proposals are part of the council’s Local Waiting Restriction Programme. Residents and businesses had until June 27 to register their approval or opposition to the measures. Whilst some of the proposed measures have gained approval – such as those addressing emergency access problems in Mount Boone and Lower Fairview Road – most of the proposals have prompted a wealth of concern over the loss of unrestricted parking spots in the lower town.
Campaigner Teddy Cranmer, who personally hand delivered more than 300 letters of opposition to County Hall in Exeter, said: “Since 2010 there have been five attempts to alter or limit parking in Dartmouth, all of which have been opposed by both residents and those who work in the town.
“We hope this will be the end of the matter until such time as Devon County Council/ South Hams/ Dartmouth Town Council organise a further car park in the lower part of the town. There was such a plan some 25 years ago proposed by South West Water who were prepared to build the town a free car park for some 300 vehicles. This was to be sited in the little used area of mud between the higher ferry and the Ship-in-Dock pontoon. Sadly, this scheme failed due to a very small amount of opposition in the town. This site would be ideal for those visiting the town and free up Mayor’s Avenue car park for those who live or work in the town. Dartmouth is near gridlock especially in the summer months and many are deterred from visiting and working in the town. Many residents are faced with the equivalence of motoring musical chairs every few hours.
“Until we have further parking facilities in the town, this parking problem will re-occur, driving away both visitors and those who work in the town.”
Sally Hibbert, who lives off Higher Street, has set up a Facebook group to oppose the latest parking proposals, which would take away up to 20 all-day parking spaces on Higher Street. The group now has more than 100 members against the new restrictions.
Higher Street resident William Kelsall is amongst many who’ve penned letters of objection to Devon County’s proposals.
In his letter to the County Solicitor, he said: “There needs to be a radical overhaul of parking in Dartmouth. However, these proposals are dismaying as they show little real appraisal of the situation and have virtually no practical substance in themselves.
“I’m particularly dismayed by the proposal to introduce one hour parking in Higher Street and am at a loss to understand the thinking behind this proposal. These proposals strike at the heart of a last remaining small community of residents and workers in downtown Dartmouth.
“The reasoning given for all the proposals is the same in every instance i.e. to prevent obstructive parking. This suggests to me there has been little real evidence-based thought to these proposals and a blanket excuse has been used purely for convenience. The council seems to be basing their proposals on gossip rather than evidence.
“One has to question the competence of anyone who has put forward these suggestions.
They show an attitude that may have an idealised image of Dartmouth, but no consideration for the people of Dartmouth – those who elected the councillors ae being ignored in favour of an idealised impossible image of a traffic free town with total disregard for the effect it will have on the local community.
“I hope the result of this proposal will be firstly a rejection of just about every aspect and secondly a recognition of the time wasted on this. I also hope this will result in a serious scientific/ statistical based appraisal of the traffic and parking problems of Dartmouth that will lead to a practical set of proposals that reflect the wishes of the people of Dartmouth and offer practical solutions.”
Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, of Devon and South Hams Councils, said the proposals will be discussed at the Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HATOC) meeting on July 8.
He added: “Last Friday I met Sally Hibbert and Teddy Cranmer who presented me with letters objecting to parts of the proposal, in particular Higher Street and Anzac Place. I want to reassure residents that the most controversial parts I do not believe will be supported but areas such as Lower Fairview and Thurlestone Gardens could be looked at more clearly.”
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