Is car park a ‘white elephant’?

Almost deserted. The new Grantham Road car park on a Thursday morning. A sign reminds drivers to find a space before obtaining their ticket!

Almost deserted. The new Grantham Road car park on a Thursday morning. A sign reminds drivers to find a space before obtaining their ticket!

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A new, £100,000 car park to reduce town centre congestion and parking on residential streets is in danger of becoming a white elephant.

Take up of the facility on a disused warehouse site has been poor since opening a month ago.

Last Thursday morning The Standard visited the 100-space and found just ONE car using it and questions are being asked whether the council’s strategy to keep parking off residential streets and congestion out of the town centre is working.

North Kesteven District Council bought the two-acre site site to build affordable housing on part of it, with negotiations ongoing with Network Rail to locate a permanent public car park on its land. In the meantime the temporary car park has been created. The council has spent £99,000 on converting the old commercial site, surfacing it, painting lines and installing barriers, signs and ticket machines as well as an access road.

District councillor for Quarrington and Mareham ward, Mark Suffield said the council had predicted it would recoup its outlay with parking revenue but that did not appear to be working.

He said: “The on-street parking around town has got out of hand, with people parking for free stretching past Redcroft Nursery on Mareham Lane. Perhaps the council could offer free parking for a trial period to free up the traffic congestion on Lincoln, Grantham and Electric Station Roads. It would be in everybody’s interests to get them off the streets and help traffic move freely and be safer for pedestrians crossing.”

He hoped it would not become a ‘white elephant’ and waste of taxpayers’ money, but understood people legally parked elsewhere to avoid paying £10 a week extra to travel to work. Coun Suffield suggested a minimal fee would be better as an incentive, while residents could be more proactive in calling for residents’ only parking zones.

Alan Gray, NKDC economic development manager said: “The council acknowledges that initial take-up at the new Grantham Road car park has not been as strong as we had hoped in the early days, but we are undertaking a range of measures to promote it further.

“There is no question, given the scale of on-street day-time parking in the surrounding streets, that there is a need for a car park such as this on the south side of Sleaford, but we need to undertake more work to promote it among those drivers who are preferring to park on residential streets.”

He accepted signage from the A15 could be improved and they are seeking to make these more visible. The council has also promoted the car park’s availability and affordability (£2 all day Monday to Saturday) among businesses and schools within the town. “We are also discussing opportunities with East Midlands Trains to promote it among passengers,” said Mr Gray.

Ultimately, he said this is the first piece in a jigsaw of delivering a series of edge of centre car parks in accordance with the Sleaford Transport Strategy to improve the environment with less congestion, lower parking fees and ultimately shorter journeys, unaffected by crossing closures.

l What do you think? Email: andy.hubbert@jpress.co.uk