Where to Park? The delights of the summer season also bring with them the now perennial problems of traffic congestion and parking difficulties. This year the decision by the Co-op to charge non-customers for the use of their car park has provoked debate at Town Council meetings as well as among voluntary groups and traders.
The Co-op took the decision after observing that much of their car parking space was being occupied by non-customers who would often leave their cars there for the full day. It has been noted that this also happens regularly at the Cinema Street Car Park despite the one hour restriction on parking there. Some traders have argued that they are forced to do this because of the lack of any alternative for them and their staff, several of whom live out of town and have no other option than to drive into work. Ironically, the use of parking spaces by traders and workers further exacerbates the already acute problem of shortage of parking options for visitors, which ultimately has negative consequences for the traders themselves. Faced with a struggle to find parking space or having to pay to park, many people will choose to do their shopping elsewhere. It seems that, once more, the struggling high street traders are in a disadvantageous position when compared to the supermarkets and out of town shopping malls where parking is free and shopping convenient and easy (if a way can be found through the traffic to get to them that is!) Some people advocate that strict policing of the car parks and clamping should be introduced, while others argue that all car parking should be free in order to lend the high street a helping hand and to stimulate growth in the local economy. The viewpoint from the East Riding Council is that car parks provide an important source of revenue in this era of austerity and cutbacks. Indeed, the plans revealed in the recent public consultation for development of the South Promenade include the introduction of car parking charges there as well. It has been noted that the Council’s policy of charging for every car park in the town is not consistent across the East Riding, as some towns have plenty of free car parks. However, whilst the Council may well have some explaining to do in this respect, the fact remains that there is very little physical space available in the town centre to accommodate large volumes of traffic and parked cars. The congestion around the Market Place and Southgate at peak times continues to be a source of despair- even road rage- and seems to be getting worse year on year. Many feel that the restricted traffic light measures employed for Bank Holidays improves traffic flow, but attempts to do this in the past were blocked by traders concerned that it may discourage people from entering the town centre. This is a topic about which everyone has an opinion but for which a satisfactory solution is very difficult to find. Perhaps it would be helpful to step back and look at the bigger picture. This is, of course, by no means a phenomenon which is confined to Hornsea. With the construction boom of recent decades and the large increase in the number of 2 or even 3 car households, together with the decline in public transport, logic dictates that a large increase in the number of vehicles attempting to squeeze into our town centres is inevitable. Furthermore, as long as the drive to build more homes and sell more cars continues, the problem only seems likely to increase in magnitude. Is this just part of a global trend that we are powerless to change and must learn to live with or can a radical solution be found to free our town centre from traffic congestion and to create an enjoyable and convenient shopping experience for everyone? Would it be heretical to suggest that, since we are already consuming more than twice the number of resources that the earth has the capacity to provide us with, it might be a good idea to think about building fewer houses and having fewer cars on the roads? Send your answers to our letters page please!