Agenda item

Petition: Keep 1 Hour Free Parking in Paddock Wood

To receive a petition from the public, a summary of which is set out in the report, and to decide a response.




The council received a petition containing over 1,000 signatures which stated “We the undersigned disapprove of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s decision to take away Paddock Woods first hour free parking with no public consultation. This is a lifeline for our local business who will be the ones who lose the foot fall though their doors and who are still recovering from covid restrictions”.


Mr Richard Barsley and Mr Paul Smith were in attendance to present the petition which included the following comments.


  • Prior to April 2016 Paddock Wood (PW) always had 2 hours free parking
  • Around 2010 Borough Council (BC) contact PW and informed them the Car Park were not covering their costs and would be looking to increase charges to cover the running costs only and not for profit purposes..
  • Claire Holly and John Barsley of PW Business Association compiled a report with suggestions for revenue generating activities which would cover the costs as well as provide a modest surplus
  • Findings of these actions can be found in the PW Association minutes
  • BC Further claimed they required an additional £20-£30 for car park resurfacing
  • BC claim due to loss of 2nd hour parking there has been no impact on footfall
  • Data has shown the footfall has dropped by 12.5 % within the first year
  • Discovered in July 2022 that the BC proposed increasing parking fees by 75% on the second hours and abolishing free parking in PW and Southborough however keeping free parking in St Johns.
  • Justification was the need for new car charging points, even though the BC had received grants for this.
  • Majority of residents are elderly and rely on the town centre for their shopping and are unable to use online forms.
  • BC disallowed the first online petition on a technicality but has accepted the second written submission
  • TWBC online petition was very biased, and the questions were not linked to the town’s economies/services
  • The matter cannot be resolved by a 5 Questions consultation
  • Due to increased charges, there will be an increase in illegal parking in Commercial Road and surrounding areas
  • Request for proper consultation is no required for shopping but for foodbanks, doctors, library, and visits to chemists etc

·         Mary Portus was commission by Government to report on town centre decline

where she reported parking fees killing town centres






Mr Jamil Nasir


·         Advised that all residents were pleased that the decision had been reversed

·         He thanked the coalition council for their actions

·         Residents and Businesses still fear that town centre car parks were not included


Councillor Rutland  moved and Councillor Warne seconded the motion. “The Council welcomes the petition and thanks those who signed it the council notes that  cabinet have agreed to keep 1 hour free parking as requested by the petition.


Debate on the motions included the following points.

·         In total over 3000 signatures collected which is high percentage of resident living in town and higher that percentage that vote in elections

·         PW visitors can park illegally safe in the knowledge that they will not be caught due to lack of parking enforcement officers

·         Free parking is an essential selling factor

·         Borough Partnership were thanked for listening and changing their stance

·         It was raised that due to the way the petitions had been handled and supressed thousands of people disenfranchised due to technicalities

·         Regrettable oversight before doing and consultation was rushed.

·         Parking and car usage needs to be addressed with Net Zero targets

·         Large retail spaces such as Bluewater cannot be allowed to attract shoppers away from town centre shopping.

·         Concern around timelines of this free charge being applicable

·         It was requested that a timetable be compiled to act as a way forward

·         What should the future of the high street look like and it was felt it was an important decision that needs to be made



Councillor Rutland requested a recorded vote on the amendment


Members who voted in favour of the amendment: Councillors Allen, Atkins, Atwood, Bailey, Barrass, Barrington-King, Bland, Brice, Britcher-Allan, Chapelard, Dawlings,  Fairweather, Ellis, Everitt, Fitzsimmons, Funnell, Dr Hall, hall, Hayward, Hill, Holden, Knight, Le Page, Lewis, Lidstone, March, McMillan, Moon, Morton, Neville, Patterson, Poile, Pope Pound, Roberts, Rogers, Rutland, Sankey, Wakeman, Warne, White, Wormington, (42)





















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