An opinion piece from Cllr Eber Kington: This week SCC announced a seven-year contract worth £96.5 million, with private company Marston Holdings Ltd, for parking and traffic enforcement. In April, SCC will be centralising parking enforcement, a service which currently is managed by Surrey’s Borough and District on behalf of the County.
Image: Cllr Eber Kington on patrol
The accompanying comments to the announcement, made by the Kevin Deanus, Cabinet member for Highways
and Community Resilience, promise much. But residents need to be aware, SCC does not have a great track
record when it comes to taking back decision making and centralising services previously provided by the Borough Council on behalf of the County.
When SCC took back the maintenance of highway verge trees the policy became one of no maintenance unless a
tree is diseased, dying or dead. And no longer will SCC automatically replace a tree lost to our urban streets.
Instead, our residents have to pay £25 just to get a location looked at. £25 which is not refundable and, as often
is the case, ends with the site being declared as unsuitable for a tree.
In April, SCC is also taking back the cutting of verges. The 6 to 8 seasonal cuts by the Borough Council, recognising
seasonal weather conditions, will be reduced a standard county-wide cut of 4. Hardly an upgrade on what has
gone before. And will SCC be pro-actively managing overhanging branches in our urban alleyways? My concern is
that SCC does not even realise it’s a job to be done.
And the abolition of Local Committees and centralisation of highway decisions. Now residents have no public
meeting to ask questions of Highway Officers, petitions are determined at SCC’s HQ in Reigate by council officials
or a SCC Cabinet Member, and road safety schemes are decided by a Cabinet Member rather than local County
So, what will this £96.5 million contract mean? Kevin Deanus, Cabinet member for Highways and Community
Resilience, said: “The new contract will mean that Surrey County Council can more directly and consistently
manage on street parking enforcement across the county, helping to tackle inconsiderate parking and make
parking restrictions more effective.”
We all want safe and considerate parking, and there has to be a penalty for those who do neither. But that £96.5
million contract has to be paid for somehow. Will we see parking meters introduced where currently there are 1
hour or 2 hour waiting limits? Will additional yellow lines, designed to push drivers into paid for parking spaces,
be introduced. Will the new system be flexible enough to ensure that our local primary schools are visited
regularly to manage dangerous parking and idling cars? And will Residents Parking Zone Permit charges go up
Personally, I’m not sure that SCC’s desire for consistency and effectiveness in parking enforcement also equates
to fairness in delivery and a recognition of local needs, and it won’t be just another way to make our residents
County Councillor Eber Kington
Eber Kington is a former Mayor of Epsom and Ewell. He represents the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council Ward of Ewell Court Ward and on the County Council of Surrey he serves the ward of Ewell Court, Auriol & Cuddington.
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