The Case For Parking Charges In Ely

Image: Ely Parking

Ely Online has been forthright in it’s opposure to proposed parking charges for Ely. Recently quoted Philip Eden, Chair of The Ely Perspective who wrote an open letter to the Ely Weekly News.

Here is that letter in full giving ECDC’s Ely Transport Strategies case for introducing parking charges:

There has been much coverage of the proposal to introduce charges for parking in Ely. Along with other independent representatives, I sit on the Transport Strategy working group, which is looking at these proposals. The City of Ely Perspective, of which I am chairman, has been working with the district council and others for some time on Ely’s Transport Strategy, which is about far more than just car parking. Little has been said about the background to the proposals though, and what they will achieve. Clearly, anyone asked to pay for something previously free is bound to be unhappy. This is totally understandable.

But take a look at some of the issues & facts affecting Ely and its surroundings:

East Cambridgeshire has the fastest growing population in the country.

The population of the parish of Ely alone was some 15,000 in 2001 and is estimated to be 20,000 when current building projects are complete!

In 2001 there were 7,450 cars registered in Ely – If current trends continue there will be 12,100 by 2011!

Added to these figures must be equivalents for the towns and villages around the City, such as Soham and Littleport.

Our car parks are already full to capacity on many days, even on quieter days the long stay car parks are full of vehicles belonging to commuters and those working in Ely well before 8.30am. Cars circulate around the short stay car parks searching for space, often in vain.

Congestion in the city gets worse with some junctions struggling to cope for considerable periods with vehicles searching for parking spilling over.

Visitors including locals who want to stay in excess of 2 or 3 hours are unable to do so in the absence of medium stay car parking.

On street parking in surrounding roads is becoming an increasing problem for residents who have no drives or garages.

Use of public transport into/out of Ely has increased both by bus, and more particularly by rail, the five rail lines out of Ely generating considerable demand from commuters – the rail station car park is full by 7.30am and rail commuters occupy many of the long term spaces in the other car parks and on the streets.

The historic nature of the city does not lend itself to construction of additional car parks in or near the centre; neither does the road infrastructure have much scope for massive increases in traffic volumes.

The same historic base, range of shopping, vibrant street markets & beautiful riverside attract increasing numbers of tourists and visitors from all over.

Bus services in and around the City, whilst relatively efficient and reliable, are the most that can be provided without substantial additional subsidy. Indeed the majority are run totally without subsidy by Stagecoach.

It is clear from the foregoing that doing nothing is causing long term problems

Locals are being deterred from coming into Ely at all as access is becoming more and more difficult.

This in turn is stifling retail trade and thus many service industries, growth will cease and businesses will struggle to maintain their turnover or existence.

Ely will become a less popular destination for tourists and visitors as they too find access difficult and facilities poorer.

Residents close to the centre have increasing difficulty accessing their homes due to uncontrolled on street parking.

Congestion in the central area will approach and reach gridlock.

Short stay parking deters spending by those who wish to stay longer and spend more!

New and potential residents take their business elsewhere from day 1 as a result of poor access.

Employers will find recruitment even more difficult as staff have increasing difficulty accessing their place of work.

People will be increasingly discouraged from using rail services as access to the station becomes more and more difficult…

…and more journeys out of Ely will be made by road, causing yet more congestion on our overcrowded routes.

So what are the solutions proposed?

Build more car parking: The proposal for a park and ride site on Angel Drove is probably the biggest site available in Ely, can be extended, is away from the congested City Centre and overcomes many long stay issues, in particular that of the station. It is convenient for the A10 and A142.

Provide more public transport: The bus link proposed gives frequent access to the station, City Centre and new council offices as well as potentially serving some residential areas of the City offering an alternative to some short journeys made by car and providing for those without their own transport.

Introducing parking charges: This is the only way to ensure car parks and on street parking spaces get optimum use. Parking at the Park and Ride site inclusive of the bus journey, would be cheaper than for long periods nearer the City, ideal for commuters and workers (including a season ticket), thus leaving more spaces in the closer car parks available for short and medium stay and hence higher turnover of spaces. A greater number of users choosing how long they stay can only bring increased business to the city by unlocking the current unmet demand and ensuring the future demand from new residents and visitors is catered for.
Every penny earned from proposed car park charging goes straight back into transport, including running the bus service, operation of the scheme and enforcement. Not a penny goes into the coffers of the District Council and it certainly would not being used for the office relocation. The members of the Council have already fully agreed this.

Some suggest they will go elsewhere for their business but the cost of getting there is not cheap, more than paying a modest charge in Ely. The problems experienced now in Ely are no different anywhere else, and other locations are considering introduction of charges too, but not putting the money back into transport alternatives to manage the demand. The proposed system makes access to Ely easier and less stressful than at present.

Controlled parking zones: Residents close to the City Centre can expect some protection from the growing problem experienced by the overspill from car parks.

Improvements to walking and cycling routes – will encourage more local people to choose alternatives to driving.

Philip Eden
City of Ely Perspective

1 reply
  1. Tim Steele
    Tim Steele says:

    There is ample evidence from other cities, particularly in Holland, that if the historic centre is open to pedestrians and cyclists only and safe and convenient footpaths and cycle access is provided that many people prefer to leave their cars at home and cycle or walk into the centre of town. I’m all in favour of keeping the existing free parking for car drivers but this is not so convenient for the shops or the Cathedral.

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