Bringing back free parking in Fleet The Community Campaign fully support looking at how to bring back 30 or 60 minutes free parking in Fleet. However, we felt that trying to drop it in last minute to the council budget debate was not going to achieve the right result.
Firstly, to be sustainable in future years, we need to work out how to fit free parking into the existing budget framework. Paying for it out of contingency funds, as suggested on the night of Hart's budget meeting would make it a short term gesture. When we do this, let's make it a lasting commitment this time. The people of Fleet are fed up of local politicians using parking as a short term election gimmick. Let us go about looking at this more carefully, so that it's not just a cynical transient gesture.
Secondly, we need to consider which scheme works best to bring about the desired effect of supporting our retailers. Do we offer free parking in designated red bays only, or do we do provide it just in Church Road car park or in every Hart car park? If the car parks become full of dash-in dash-out shoppers, does it impact on those who wish to park to have a more extensive shopping trip?
Consequently, we are moving a motion at Hart's March full council meeting to get support for reintroducing free parking for up to 60 minutes – but as a carefully considered policy, so that it can be an effective, long term commitment.
“This council wishes a prompt review of car parking charges across the district to bring in free 30 or 60 minute parking in a way that is cost neutral to the car parking budget. The 30 or 60 mins free parking is important to help our district wide retailers and therefore cost neutrality is vital in order to make the scheme sustainable in more challenging budget years. The parking review needs to take into account the effect of Hampshire County Council's alarming proposal to introduce on street parking meters in urban areas. The parking review must therefore also consider how best to protect residents ability to park in their own neighbourhoods. A holistic approach is needed to get a balanced parking strategy which works across the board.”.