Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dismay as City Council postpones residents' parking consultation yet again

As reported in today's Courier, I have expressed dismay that, yet again, City Council officials have conceded that there will be yet further delays to the proposed consultation with West End residents in the area around the West End shops and up to Blackness Road for a possible residents’ parking scheme to improve the very difficult parking situation for residents in the area.

The City Council’s Head of Transportation announced to the West End Local Community Planning Partnership last week that council officers were now not going ahead with putting together residents’ parking improvement proposals this autumn as previously promised, for consultation with the community and was now unable to give any precise timescale.   This news was nothing short of disheartening and will be met with a real sense of disappointment by residents in the affected area who have real difficulties parking near their homes.

I contacted the City Council’s Chief Executive to express my concerns about the further delays and was advised :

“I have taken up your concerns with the Director of City Development and the Head of Transportation and they have explained that there are  staffing structure gaps that have impacted on the Department's work programming over the past twelve months.   Traffic Engineering staff have focussed on the Disabled Parking Places Act implementation as well as the need to prioritise road safety areas.  

I am planning that the City Development departmental review will be approved in September 2011,and this will then allow the Transportation Division to have the right staff compliment matched to work priorities.

Assuming staffing establishment is in place by December 2011 I have asked that the Head of Transportation has the design work completed by April 2012 allowing consultation to then commence.

Like you I am disappointed that this matter is to be again delayed, however I am confident that the Transportation Division will pull together an appropriate consultation exercise to gather the opinions of the residents and businesses.”

I have replied to the Chief Executive as follows :

“I appreciate your efforts but must say that I have grave concerns that a committee report’s recommendations approved on 11th January 2010 that indicated that detailed design work would commence in the summer of last year has still not been commenced and the earliest consultation would start is more than two years after the report was approved by committee.   

I cannot recall any City Council committee’s recommendations lying unimplemented over such an extended period at any time in the past.    When I met the Director of City Development in October 2010, the disabled parking legislation was given as the reason for delay – this explanation, 11 months later, is surely wearing a bit thin.

I do think that meantime an interim report updating elected members on the revised timetable must be submitted to City Development Committee given the inordinate delay in us seeing any progress with the committee’s decision.”

During my tenure as Planning & Transport Convener up to 2009, we saw real progress towards parking improvements with the council bringing in professional consultants to make recommendations as to how parking can be improved for residents in the area.   What should have happened thereafter was the drawing up of specific proposals and then a consultation period with residents to get their views on any proposed parking improvements scheme.

Since control of the council changed hands, the foot appears to be firmly off the pedal in terms of getting this properly resolved for the benefit of the West End residents affected.  There seems to be a total lack of any policy direction on this matter from the current administration and they really do have to get the act together.   These continuing details are really unacceptable.   Residents have a right to expect the council to efficiently act to help them with local parking problems.