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“Nothing is set in stone…”

October 25, 2010
West Didsbury Parking Marking

West Didsbury Parking Meeting

And if, last Thursday evening at Cavendish Primary School, we heard that once, we must have heard it about twenty times. Last Thursday was the Public Consultation Meeting for the proposed residents’ parking scheme in and around West Didsbury. From the outset, the Council representative reminded the packed hall – and it was packed, with both businesses and residents – that “Nothing (about the scheme) is set in stone…” and that the outcomes of the meeting would inform future developments.

Didsbury Life had worked alongside the West Didsbury Residents’ Association in getting out the word about the meeting and we were absolutely delighted with the turn-out. Often public meetings, as laudable as they can be, have an apathetic appeal and we had sort of wondered, how many people would really want to turn out at 7.30pm on a cold autumn night to sit in a school hall. Buisnesses had been informed but we’d guessed that many of the bars and restaurants wouldn’t be able to send people, as 7.30pm is when they start to get going.

The WDRA and Didsbury Life had publicly stated a neutral stance, as between us we represent many diverse views and groups. It’s a little more complicated at Didsbury Life as we’re both business owners and residents in the middle of the zone designated for the proposed scheme. Privately, we all hold our own views, but both organisations felt that with the contacts we had and the mailing lists which give us access to many business owners and residents, our job should be to keep people informed and up to date with developments.

Simon Connolly from Greens addresses the meeting

Simon Connolly from Greens addresses the meeting

We had a neutral chair in place – with thanks to Lynda Brady – as well as Kevin Gray, a resident putting forward his views, and Simon Connolly from Greens Restaurant, putting forward his views. Representatives from the Council and from Withington Community Hospital were also in attendance. Given that what was being proposed could be seen as emotive, we had anticipated a fairly rocky meeting. However, the mood was set when Kevin and Simon immediately spoke of the common ground between residents and buisnesses – and how one can’t really thrive with out the other, and how solutions must be found.

Businesses did speak passionately about how a draconian parking scheme could jeopardise their economic survival – and residents also spoke passionately about reaching a solution which retained the vibrant, unique and independent spirit (yes, really – Didsbury Life hasn’t just chucked that one in!) of West Didsbury.

West Didsbury Parking Meeting

West Didsbury Parking Meeting

So, it all sounds a bit hippy dippy and harmonious – but what was the actual outcome? Well, it was a meeting to hear views, not to make decisions. But, it was very clear, from the majority of people in the hall, that businesses and residents weren’t there to pit themselves against each other. They were there to find “solutions”. OK, so maybe people there felt disgruntled, and possibly not able to air their views, but my personal feeling (and that is the feeling of me, not Didsbury Life, the organisation) was that most people felt that residents’ parking permits weren’t the answer. A permit certainly isn’t going to guarantee you a spot outside your house. Much was raised that we now need clarification on. Will businesses receive parking permits? What’s the definitive position with multi-occupancy houses or families with more than one car registered at the property? Visitors? (The suggestion was put forward that residents will be able to buy an annual Visitors’ Permit or buy occasional “scratchcards” from the Post Office or Sure Start Centre or… where precisely? Not well thought out, in my humble opinion!) What about carers? What about business deliveries? The displacement of the parking problem? The question of the Metrolink was brought up – had the impact of this been considered? And then, the issue of the Withington Community Hospital Car Park…

So, we’ve been told that the outcomes of the meeting will be taken into consideration in the next round of consultation and that the whole point of the meeting had been to take into account the views of the stakeholders. Interestingly, there was a show of hands at the end of the meeting and this produced an almost unanimous rejection of a scheme which would lead to possibly more problems than currently exist. This was noted by the City Council representatives and it was stated that if such a response was received at the next round of consultation, they would again note it but that the Elected Members had overall jurisdiction. However, as was said at the beginning, “Nothing is set in stone”.

Or, as Justin from Folk, who after an impassioned speech about we all work hard to keep our community going, put it – “We just want to get on with our shit, man.” Fine words.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2010 7:55 pm

    As a former resident of Cresswell Grove and a victim (been shouted at and threatened by people who have blocked my driveway when I’ve asked them to move their car) of the inconsiderate patrons of businesses I’m avidly following this. I think more traffic wardens and pay and display parking would help. I once had a car blocking my drive for 24 hrs. Car should have been ticketed and towed. I agree that the permit parking really isn’t the answer. I recently (in Aug) sold my house and one of the major factors for leaving was the horrible parking issues and W Didsbury turning into Blackpool during a stag night convention. Hope this all gets sorted. Even with the parking issues and the loud obnoxious drunks it’s a fantastic place. I miss all the indy shops and the vibe. I love reading your blog even if it does make me sad.

    • October 25, 2010 8:40 pm

      Hi Lindy – as stated in the blog, we’re both residents and business owners working & living within the proposed zone. Parking is a major issue – we once had a car sit outside our house for 2 weeks while its owners presumably went off on holiday, having loaded suitcases into the back of a taxi. What was really clear at the meeting was that a) there just isn’t enough kerb space for the number of cars currently and that b) any kind of permit scheme will simply dispalce the problem further out. The hospital car park still seems be the issue which is raised time and time again as being a potential solution and this was noted at the meeting. The issue isn’t going to go away, but there has to be a scheme which benefits both businesses and residents.

  2. Matthew permalink
    October 25, 2010 8:06 pm

    I didn’t know about this meeting or I might have attended. I just moved back to Didsbury from Edinburgh, where all parking throughout the city centre and inner suburbs is strictly regulated. Although not without its problems, it meant finding a space, either as a resident or as a visitor, was relatively easy (it was a massive generator of revenue for the council, not least through parking tickets). Parking in both Didsbury and West Didsbury is absolute chaos. I’m usually forced to park 5 minutes’ walk from my house. I don’t understand how the rules, if there are any, are regulated. Something needs to be done to improve the situation, help residents, and, even, move Manchester to being less car dependent.

  3. October 25, 2010 8:33 pm

    Hi Matthew – Thanks for your comments. The whole issue of parking & communication about the scheme has been a bit hazy, which is why Didsbury Life & WDRA tried to get all interested parties together. We were advised at the meeting that the next round of consultation will begin with in approx 3 weeks, so we’ll be keeping people as up to date as we can via Didsbury Life, our mailing list, Twitter, Facebook and the WRDA mailing list. I’m assuming you won’t know about these meetings either – http://www.didsburylife.com/news/310/metrolink-extension-to-east-didsbury-public-meetings.html – & these are just as important because of the implications that the Metrolink will have on parking. I put this out on Didsbury Life this morning, in response to an email I received from the City Council.

    • Matthew permalink
      October 25, 2010 10:40 pm

      I got a letter the other day from GMPTE on the extension meetings, so that’s being advertised properly. I only just started following Didsbury Life on Twitter today; I look forward to being kept up-to-date on happenings and developments.

  4. October 25, 2010 9:36 pm

    Did the holiday makers block your car in your driveway for 2 weeks? I was livid but we weren’t planning on going anywhere so didn’t do anything about it. 24 hrs later and we needed to go out so had to call community support officers who called the woman and asked her to move her car. I think she forgot where she parked it! LOL fun times. At least there is dialogue between all parties which can only be a good thing. I look forward to seeing it all resolved, I wish everyone luck and I do hope the issue is resolved to the benefit of both residents and businesses.

    • October 25, 2010 9:54 pm

      Hi Lindy – No, we don’t have a drive. On road parking. Just seemed a touch cheeky to park up anywhere on a residential road & head off on your holidays. Like you say, good that issue is being talked about. Just hope it can be resolved in a way that’s not detrimental to the economy of the area – because everyone suffers then.

  5. Tom permalink
    December 14, 2010 1:35 pm

    Sadly, I also was not aware of this meeting, as it would have been an opportunity to follow up on the extensive response I sent to MCC as part of its initial consultation.

    The issue is much wider than the convenience of residents to park outside their homes or businesses to attract people who want to drive to their premises. It is one of the use and role of the car in West Didsbury – fundamnetally, what is an attractive place to live and visit is worsened by the presence of cars, whether parked or moving.

    There will not be a residents’ parking regime, and gradually the choking effects of vehicles will irreprably damage West Didsbury and what it stands for. Which is a great shame, as it is otherwise a great place to live.

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