Surrey County Council’s (SCC) introduction of parking charges at five registered commons (Newlands Corner, Chobham, Whitmoor, Rodborough and Wisley and Ockham) and at Norbury Park appears to be resulting in a significant reduction in the number of visitors to the sites. Some of the people who are staying away will undoubtedly be those who simply cannot afford the charges. Given that there is little in the way of public transport to the sites, the effect of this policy is to prevent people from exercising their rights of access to them.
The cost of the parking charge scheme, together with the reduction in cars using the car parks, also makes it increasingly unlikely that the scheme will ever produce a profit.
There was never any consultation about introducing charges at Newlands Corner, despite Councillor Goodman’s 2015 policy paper saying that there should be. There was a consultation exercise about introducing charges at the other sites. It is abundantly clear that very few members of the public knew about the consultation. Even so, over 1,200 people responded and nearly 1,000 said “No” to charges.
Within a matter days of the consultation closing, SCC’s Cabinet considered Cllr Goodman’s 2017 policy paper recommending the introduction of charging and setting out how this would be done. This was almost unseemly haste, was obviously pre-planned and totally ignored the outcome of the consultation.
From a position of “we have consulted”, Cllr Goodman has turned this around to say that, because less than a thousand people said “No” to charges, the consultation was not representative of the views of the people of Surrey. So, SCC has held a virtually-unpublicised consultation, received a result it didn’t want, ignored the result and is now belittling its own consultation.
A member of the public (unknown to us) is trying to put this right and show that the consultation was not unrepresentative of the Surrey public’s views on this matter. He has started a petition which you will find here: https://www.change.org/p/surrey-county-council-restore-public-access-to-surrey-commons
All news is submitted by members of the BCA - get in touch here to contribute!