Grass verge parking is ‘visually blighting’ communities according to Labour county councillors who have challenged a decision to stop subsidising verge marker posts.
Since 2011 West Sussex County Council has spent a total of £108,000 on installing an estimated 3,000 posts, but the total cost to the council has been £78,000 as it receives £10 a bollard from customer contributions.
The service was intended to ‘ensure a consistency of street scene across West Sussex’ and stop residents putting stones or logs on the highways to act as verge markers.
But WSCC’s cabinet member for highways and transport is due to stop the verge marker subsidisation scheme, and authorise highways staff to work with residents to ‘look at alternative solutions that enhance the street scene’.
A county council report states that the cost of the service was ‘no longer viable’ given the reduction in highways funding and the ‘insignificant’ benefit the posts provided to road safety.
The decision has been ‘called-in’ by the county council’s Labour group as it claims the posts prevent people parking on verges, something that can ‘blight communities’.
Peter Lamb, a county councillor and leader of Crawley Borough Council, said: “Parking is a real issue for residents county-wide and particularly for those living and working in Crawley and Worthing where there is a high population density.”
Although a pilot parking audit is currently being carried out in Chichester, Cllr Lamb said there was no certainty as to when issues in Crawley and Worthing would be considered.
He added: “Although the withdrawal of the verge marker scheme may not seem significant, many residents face parking issues on a daily basis.
“I am convinced there are other measures that should be introduced to tackle parking on verges and am calling for these to be explored before the current scheme is withdrawn.”
If the call-in request is accepted the proposed decision will be discussed by the Environmental and Community Services Select Committee.
According to the request, verge parking is an ‘increasing problem in many areas’ and WSCC has a responsibility to mitigate some of the symptoms of a shortage of parking, and states that the verge marker scheme is an example of the county council ‘actually taking action on this issue’.
The call-in request added: “For communities with high population densities, the green areas affected were often designed-in to compensate for a lack of private space and to improve the general aesthetic appeal of urban neighbourhoods.
“Verge parking is visually blighting these communities, damaging pavements and curb stones, and churning up mud onto the roads.”
The six Labour county councillors said there had been no member consultation, and no discussion of the proposed decision in any committee meetings.
They called for the decision process to be paused to allow for more scrutiny, with a focus on looking at alternative options such as town-wide TROs prohibiting verge parking.
The county council report on the proposed decision reads: “The cost of installation provided by the contractor, including labour costs, was approximately £85.
“Following recent reductions in highways funding the continuation of this scheme is considered unviable; customers had only been paying £10 for each installed bollard.”
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