Parking charges on their way to Petworth

Petworth people can expect to see the installation of ticket machines in their town-centre car park in readiness for the start of car park charging in April.

The decision to impose car park charging in the rural areas of Midhurst and Petworth was taken at the end of 2009 after Petworth Business Association and Midhurst campaigners lost their hard-fought battle to keep their car parks free for the sake of businesses in their towns.

Now top Chichester District Council officer Paul Over, who led car parking proposals, has been talking to Midhurst and Petworth town councils to explain how the charging will be introduced.

In Petworth the Sylvia Beaufoy car park will remain free all day and all night for the use of those who work in the town.

In the main car park the first hour will be free, one to two hours will cost 20p, three to four hours will be 60p and over four hours will cost motorists £1.

Season tickets will be available at a monthly cost of £10 and can be bought online or over the telephone.

Although the machines will not give change, a ‘credit card’ type system will be available where motorists can buy cards which can be put through ticket machines and money deducted from the cards. There will be no charges on Sundays, bank holidays or overnight.

Clerk to the town council Jean Huggett told the meeting town councillors were meeting highways officers from West Sussex County Council to discuss the possible effects of ‘displacement’ when motorists choose to park in unrestricted streets, rather than pay car park charges.

“We are hoping to carry out a survey of on-street parking before charging comes in and again afterwards to measure the effects,” said Mrs Huggett.

Town councillor Tony Sneller criticised the charging proposals for not attempting to channel the use of parking spaces.

He said there was no incentive for motorists to park at the bottom of the main car park.

He also wanted to see traffic wardens patrolling more frequently in Petworth.

Mr Over said there would be one additional warden employee across the area as a result of the car parking charges introduction.

“You should see more wardens in the town because they will need to be here for the car parks as well as patrolling the streets,” he said.

He said the system would be reviewed once it had been in operation for some time.

This system review will see how best to deploy wardens and examine the extent of displacement.