Stop the Proposed Car Parking Charges on Cowes and Gurnard Seafront

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The Isle of Wight Council wishes to impose car parking charges along Cowes and Gurnard Seafront, but I believe that this will negatively impact the people of Cowes and Gurnard and will prove unsustainable in the following ways:

1.       The charges will be disproportionate to traffic flow – there is a very limited peak summer season, with most tourists visiting for one-off events, eg the Round the Island Race and Cowes Week. However, the proposed charges will penalise local residents 365 days a year.

2.       The parking meters are unlikely to be sustainable. Given the regular flooding and storm damage to Egypt and Princes Esplanade, longevity will be an issue. As the seafront is not a year-round destination for visitors, the revenue stream from these meters is unlikely to cover the costs of installation, maintenance and monitoring by a traffic warden.

3.       The charges are inappropriate for the area - the charges will be at the same level as the island’s principal resorts of Ryde, Shanklin, Sandown and Ventnor. Gurnard does not have the facilities found at these resorts – it does not even have a sandy beach.

4.       The charges will penalise vulnerable groups – the flat, wide pedestrian pavements along the seafront make it one of the most accessible open spaces in Cowes and Gurnard. People with disabilities and mobility issues, the elderly, and families with young children frequently use it. Many of these users are also low-income groups, who will be disproportionately affected by the parking charges. This will affect residents’ access to bathing, sailing, cycling, angling and the children’s play area.  This will affect residents’ physical and mental wellbeing.

5.       It will hamper volunteer beach cleaning services – the area relies on volunteers to keep the beach and seafront clear of rubbish. This will be made more difficult by parking charges.

6.       It will cause congestion on unrestricted roads – nearby unrestricted roads already suffer from congestion at school drop off/pick up times and parking charges on the seafront are likely to exacerbate this problem. Some parents choose to park on the seafront and walk up Woodvale Road to ease the congestion around the school – this option will no longer be open to them. The proposed path from Gurnard Primary School to the seafront to solve the congestion problem will no longer be viable. In addition, some properties along the seafront have no parking bays and therefore they will be forced to park in nearby unrestricted roads.

7.       It will have a devastating impact on local businesses and their staff.These local businesses have invested income to regenerate the area and they are recovering from the Covid-19 lockdown. Several businesses have adapted their business models to deliver food to visitors on the seafront – these businesses are likely to be destroyed if their customers are forced to pay for parking. The seafront is also a workplace for child minders, dog walkers and personal trainers. The Council should be supporting these businesses, rather than make it less likely that they will survive the continuing Covid restrictions.

I believe that the proposed charges show the Council in a poor light. Instead of supporting local businesses and protecting the mental and physical wellbeing of its residents, it is intending to introduce charges in an area where it is very unclear whether there would be any financial benefit to doing so.

Please join me in asking the Isle of Wight Council to reconsider its plans for parking charges for Cowes and Gurnard Seafront.