COUNCILLORS are on the way to performing a U-turn on a historical policy by indicating their support for consultation on a controlled parking zone for Littlehampton.
The town council has traditionally opposed restrictions on residents’ parking in and around the town centre, fearing it would have a detrimental impact on businesses.
But members of the planning and transportation committee supported the idea of consultation, with their recommendations going to the council’s policy committee later this month.
Cornfield ward councillor Derrick Chester said: “We are basically overturning this council’s historical objection because we believe the problem is getting so bad it is a legitimate thing to consult on.”
The town council could not implement a controlled parking zone – known as a CPZ – itself, as it would require West Sussex County Council as the highways authority to initiate any scheme.
Proposals would have to go though a series of consultations, meaning it could be some time before any scheme was introduced.
The committee called on Arun District Council and the county council to work with the town council on the issue.
The meeting heard from several residents, who told councillors parking was becoming increasingly difficult in streets around the town.
Christine Butler, of River Road, said: “We do have a problem. It is not going to get better. It needs to be resolved. We want a CPZ or a residents’ scheme. It needs to be sorted.
“In River Road we have a public car park that is empty. Tourists park where we are, not in the public car park.”
Terry Ellis, of North Ham Road, said the district council’s plan to increase parking charges – previously reported in the Gazette – would increase the pressure.
“We have got to get something sorted out but one of the things the committee could be stronger with is to scream and shout with ADC (Arun) about the new parking charges,” he said.
“They’re not only going to damage the town but it will also mean people park in the spaces we don’t already have.”
Residents also noted the number of flats being built in Littlehampton with minimal parking.
Speaking from the public gallery, River ward councillor Malcolm Belchamber said: “In the old days, up until about six or seven years ago, if somebody wanted to build a block of flats you would get off road parking.
“In its wisdom, the Government changed the rules and we have now got ones opposite the station with a large number of flats with not one parking space.”
The committee unanimously agreed to recommend overturning the council’s objection to a CPZ.
Chairman Ian Buckland was keen to stress he was not hoping to see a CPZ in key business areas like Beach Road.
Others stressed, however, that they must consult on the town centre area as a whole before excluding specific streets.
Mr Buckland said: “I am trying to support my residents in listening to waht they want, rather than telling them what they are going to and not going to have.
“It is going to get more and more severe. At £10 per day parking charges will drive people out of the car parks into residential streets because they will want to try and park for free.”
When the issue was last discussed by the town council, in 2012, traders wrote to express their concerns at the proposals.
Simon Vickers, chairman of Littlehampton Traders’ Partnership was unavailable for comment at the time the Gazette went to press.