I have to say that there aren’t that many things that really annoy me in daily life, I mean I try to be a fairly easy going kind of guy most of the time, however if there’s one thing that has the potential to annoy me, it has to be car parking in Hambleton, North Yorkshire, particularly in Thirsk and Northallerton!
Now admittedly I do have a history of sticking to my principles, especially when it comes to car parking, for instance, it’s not unknown of me to drive 15 miles to a local town, get frustrated with not being able to find a car parking space for over 15 minutes and then drive 40 miles in the opposite direction to an ‘out of town’ shopping centre where I know that they’ll be plenty of free parking spaces available.
Perhaps in future people should not try and support their local town and simply go to the out of town shopping centre instead? That being the case, if you were the council responsible for decisions around parking, what would you do to help encourage business into your local rural market towns?
Perhaps replace a free parking system that allowed local people to park for up to 2 hours for free, with a paid one? Hmmm, perhaps not, I wouldn’t do that either, but clearly the people in charge don’t think like this.
Instead of encouraging them to spend time in the town which in turn means they spend money in the town, providing income for businesses which in turn provides employment for local people, you discourage people from coming into your local town – in the modern age of out-of-town shopping centres and supermarkets, not to mention the cheap bargains you can pick up on the Internet – people have plenty of other options to obtain the goods and services that they require.
I’m not saying that all paid-for parking systems are bad, for instance, if I go into a city I fully expect to pay for parking facilities, that’s simple supply and demand – there’s far less space in a crowded city to park your car, so paying for specific space to do so in a decent area is quite understandable.
But if you’re a small rural town, the same argument isn’t really valid and when you factor in increased competition for what your town can provide, surely why would you want to shoot yourself in the foot?
Admittedly, in Thirsk you can still have a free hour of parking, however instead of simply using the old disc-system of displaying what time you arrived (that you kept in your car), you now have to go and get a ticket from a machine, not only is this a complete waste of time when you’ve only parked up for less than 5 minutes to grab a sandwich, but each time I have to do this you get another sticker-based ticket – what a complete waste of time, money and resources – at the very least it’s not exactly environmentally friendly in that sense!
I now usually go directly round to the Tesco supermarket in Thirsk, park there and then have a leisurely 5 minute walk into the town centre, surely I can’t be the only one contributing to this ‘ghost town’ image? Not to mention I’m more likely to spend money at Tesco than I am in town centre businesses.
At least another local town of Ripon has implemented paid parking in a sensible and logical manner, you pay for your parking, but then can get a refund for up to two hours of parking value when you actually go into the shops/cafes in the town and spend some money and provide the town with some business!
Anyway, so we have paid parking, far enough given that situation, what is worse than having paid parking? Yes that’s right, paid parking that you can’t simply find a parking space which I’ve also experienced….if I’m going to have to pay for parking, at least ensure there are sufficient parking spaces on a day that it is busy! I’m not going to drive around for 20 minutes looking for a parking space, only to finally get one and then have to still pay!
As much as I don’t like paying for parking, at least reward me in some way for paying, by not having any frustration or wasted time in trying to find a space, or even better having a discount voucher to spend in town.
Overall, I hope there are more people out there willing to vote with their feet when it comes to car parking in North Yorkshire (specifically Thirsk and Northallerton), it will be interesting to see how it all ends up working out in the next few years, especially as future hi-tech cars will make it easier to decide where to go for things.
Although I suspect most people will simply occasionally complain, but not change their behaviour, however hopefully more people will change their behaviour in future.