I FULLY support Chris Thorne in his bid to obtain free car-parking in Hucknall, and admire his tenacity in tackling Ashfield District Council.
However, the question of car parking charges is part of a much wider issue — the question as to whether we want, and will get, a car-friendly town centre.
The recent petition calling for free parking gives the impression that people do want the town centre to be car friendly. I think it is essential and first mentioned this in a letter to the Dispatch as long ago as December 23 2003.
The car is the choice of transport for the majority of the population, even for children who travel in mum and dad’s car.
Whether the town centre is to thrive as a shopping centre or more as a cultural and social centre, local people will want to travel there by car. Those living close could walk, but on the dark wet nights of winter, even walking short distances is not pleasant.
Those wanting to travel to Hucknall from outside of the town are also most likely to want to enjoy the comfort and convenience of their own vehicles.
Contrary to this, Ashfield Council and Notts County Council are opposed to the use of cars in Hucknall town centre. In a planning document for the inner bypass scheme (F-1789 design.pdf) by the county council in December 2009, the following is given as one of the scheme objectives: “Enhance the status of public transport in order to encourage a modal shift away from the private car”
Correspondingly, the inner bypass scheme will all but wipe out the Station Road car park and there are no plans to provide an alternative. There seems little point in worrying about car-parking charges for a car park that will soon not exist.
In addition, if the town centre masterplan was ever to come to fruition, a lot of the car parking will be on the roof of a supermarket. I wonder whose responsibility that will be.
I conclude that it is not the closing of the shops that will badly affect Hucknall in the future, but the lack of available car parking places, together with a new road layout that will significantly increase congestion on Station Road. Together, these will make Hucknall very car unfriendly and a place to avoid.