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Issue 300 – “Morally wrong” District council criticised over car park ruling

The future of the popular South Parade Club has come into question now that Mendip District Council has banned its members from parking in the adjoining car park in the evenings, despite the car park only being half-full much of the time.

Last Saturday, a disabled man who parked in a disabled bay in the car park was stung with a £60 fine from one of the district council’s traffic wardens at 10.00pm, the reason for the fine being that he does not own a £200 parking permit.
This was despite the car park being half empty, and there only being one disabled bay in close proximity of the club. The man, who uses two crutches, is unable to get to the club without using the car park.
The South Parade Club is used by local groups including Mencap, Frome’s carnival committee, as well as regular functions and a popular skittles league.
Two weeks ago, Mendip District Council put up signs in the car park, transforming it into a permit holders’ only car park after 4.00pm.
Initially, the district council wanted to transform the car park into a permit holders area all day. However, after over 600 people signed a petition put together by the club’s committee, the district council made a U-turn decision.
The car park is currently a public ‘pay and display’ car park between 10.00am and 4.00pm, but only permit holders may use the car park at other times.
“The whole thing is morally wrong,” said June Barnes, who is on the South Parade Club committee. “There are many people who use the club that simply will not be able to come if they cannot use the car park. And if we have fewer members, the future of the club may be in doubt.
“After complaining to Mendip District Council, I was sent a letter personally saying that the club could buy three parking space permits at a cost of £200 each. A club like this can’t afford to pay £600 for three parking spaces.
“Many of the people who come to the club are elderly, frail, and some are slightly physically handicapped. There is no way that they can be expected to walk to the club, which is what Mendip District Council is doing. Many people at the club are absolutely livid.
“It was only with the cooperation of the South Parade Club that the district council is able to run the car park in the first place. When it was built, the club offered part of its land to the council for them to build an access to the car park. And this is the thanks we get.”
A spokesman for Mendip District Council told the Frome Times, “The changes to car parks right across Mendip were agreed several months ago and came into effect at the end of April. While the proposed changes were being discussed between the Mendip car parks working group, local town and parish councils and local residents, much media coverage and advertising gave the public an opportunity to have their say.
“All of that feedback from the consultation was discussed and some changes were made to the final recommendations, including one which ensured that South Parade was made a car park which was available to short stay shoppers as well as for resident permit holders only, as requested by the local community.
“The aim of the changes was to ensure that all car parks were better used so that town centre ones were made available for short stay shoppers so more people had an opportunity of using the car parks and therefore encouraging even more shoppers into Frome.
“In August last year as part of the consultation, Frome Town Council told the district council that the proposals ‘are a step in the right direction’.
“While Mendip District Council recognises blue badge holders in its car parks by offering free parking and dedicated disabled parking spaces, the council is under no obligation to ensure blue badge holders are allowed to park in its car parks for free at any time. Therefore blue badge holders must still adhere to any time restrictions in car parks similar to other motorists.
“The blue badge scheme is more applicable to on-street parking where displaying the badge allows them to park on-street for up to three hours.
“However, the council has agreed that in April next year it will look at all the responses it has received since the new changes came into effect and review them. It is important to highlight that these changes were advertised and the public was actively encouraged to raise their views before they came into effect, and it would be inappropriate for us to make any knee-jerk changes until any comments have been properly reviewed.
”If anyone would like to make any comments about car parking in Mendip, or any other service offered by the council, then the public is asked to speak to their local district councillor – details of which can be found on our website at www.mendip.gov.uk.”

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