Car parking rate

Friends of Dunorlan voice concerns over parking plans as move sparks petition

A group of friends at a park in Tunbridge Wells where parking fees are due to be introduced for the first time criticized the plans.

Residents unhappy with the proposals have also started a petition for Council to reconsider.

Last week the Time reported on how the new borough partnership in Council is increasing fees in its car parks and will introduce payment to park at Dunorlan Park.

The coalition wants to charge £1 an hour, capped at £5 for the whole day, for cars in the two car parks.

But Friends of Dunorlan Park (FoDP) say there has been no consultation with Council over the plans and the fee could lead to unsafe ‘overflow’ parking on local roads.

The charges had been presented as a chance to deter town center shoppers from using Dunorlan Park and included a pledge to ‘support the upkeep of the car park and the park itself’.

But FoDP chairman Peter Russell told the Time that the group had not been consulted and that the parking policy had many pitfalls.

“The Friends of Dunorlan Park are very concerned about this proposal, at least in part because we have not been consulted and, it appears, members of the Council’s parks department,” he said. .

He added that there were already problems when drivers could not park.

‘We are already getting complaints about the unsafe situation when people park on the narrow Halls Hole Road and it will only get worse if charges are introduced,’ he said.

“Similarly, overflow from the Pembury Road car park would tend to go to the edges of Pembury Road itself.

“It’s dangerous and unsightly and having happened once or twice before, we know from experience that neither Council nor the police are interested in stopping this illegal parking.”

Meanwhile, on the condition of the car parks themselves, Mr Russell noted that one of the car parks was ‘not properly paved and would surely need to be brought up to a reasonable level before pricing could be introduced’.

He continued: “Dunorlan Park has been a lifeline for many people and families during lockdown and many people enjoy spending a lot of time there.

“Not everyone can walk or cycle to Dunorlan and we feel that the current number of fairly limited parking spaces should be free and reserved for genuine users of the park.

“The Friends believe that these proposals have not been carefully considered and that no consultation has taken place. We are not convinced that the funds raised will directly benefit Dunorlan Park.

A petition has also been created, urging Cabinet and Council to “keep Dunorlan Park free”.

Petition author and local resident Richard Harrington wrote: ‘The introduction of parking fees is warranted because of the minute number of users who use the park to get into town’, but denied that this was a problem.

The petition has already garnered more than 400 signatures by the time The Times went to press yesterday (Tuesday). If it reaches 500 signatures, the petition will be reviewed by the Oversight and Review Committee which may hear public testimony from a senior Council official.

If it reaches 1,000 signatures, the TWBC Plenary Council will have to debate the proposals.

Charges for cars in the Dunorlan park are due to be introduced by October following public consultation.

The move follows Ashdown Forest’s plans to also charge for parking. The East Sussex beauty spot intends to introduce charges for its car parks from August.

John Smith

The author John Smith