Parking is the source of discontent across the community.
Parking can be a problem for everyone but for residents in Raynes Park it has become a source of constant debate.
Raynes Park Community Forum met on March 13 to discuss community matters, where residents focused on the inconsistent and confusing rules regarding available parking, the high chance of being issued a ticket and general congestion.
They also spoke about plans the council put forward in February, when they put forward the introduction of pay and display bays with uniform hours and a window of 20 minutes free parking for customers before charging a flat rate of £1.10 per hour.
Following Thursday’s discussion, Chris Larkman, a representative of the Raynes Park Association, said: “We are still in negotiations about what people will prefer and are still consulting with the council.
“Councillor Andrew Judge has agreed to six months of consultation about the council’s proposal to remove free parking and to replace it with meters and we are happy that communication is still open.
“We hope we will reach a solution that will benefit all.”
Mr Larkman also added that his main concern is the increase in controlled parking zones (CPZ) as he is worried that they will spread at an uncontrollable rate.
Although the parking situation in Raynes Park affects residents and visitors, there has been considerable protest from local businesses which have been affected by the lack of parking near their place of work.
Sara Bennett, 40, of Village Sports, said that the current parking situation is not ideal for her clientele. The fact there is no parking available before 10am and after 4pm is counter-productive for the parents that need to collect school supplies from her shop during the school run.
“At least once or twice a week customers get tickets and are put in a bad mood,” she added.
However, Ms Bennett is one of the few that have reacted positively towards the council’s suggestion of parking meters. She acknowledged that under the new scheme, less customers would be ticketed due to uniform parking times that would correct her present problem.
Others have not received the new proposal well. Karen Wirth, 41, owner of Room Remedies, believes that it will have a negative affect on her business.
“Lots of my customers said it would put them off coming,” she said.
Ms Wirth drew attention to the fact the instalment of pay and display bays would put extra pressure on the small Waitrose car park near her shop which charges only 30p an hour.
She explained that the only way in which she would accept the new policy is if the price of parking matched the supermarket’s prices and if parking was available all day.
Julie Donabie, owner of My Favourite Things, is one of several campaigning against the council’s proposal. She intends to hold a meeting for local businesses to come together and put forward their requests to the council.
Ms Donabie expressed the need for better short term and long term parking solutions that are fairly priced. She also highlighted the difference in price between resident and business parking permits, the latter which can add up to over ten times the amount of the prior. She added that shop owners would like to pay for permits but that the amount asked by the council is not feasible for small businesses to afford.
“We live in a car society,” she said.
“We businesses can’t rely on foot fall alone.”
After the proposal was published in February, shop owners and residents signed a petition entitled ‘Raynes No Park’ against the proposition, which received over 500 signatures. One third came from outside Raynes Park, suggesting that the same number of custom could also be lost if Merton Council’s current suggestion is enforced.
Ms Wirth added: “It’s hard because it feels like there are people out there making decisions that you don’t have any control over.
“Shops have community value too. Shop owners are not just money taking robots. They build relationships with their customers. That all takes more than just twenty minutes.”
The discussion continues with all involved hoping to find a solution.
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