orderForm.noItems FEWhad belief in the LibDems’

policy formodal shift to solve Maidstone’s ghastly and rapidly- growing traffic nightmares, and the borough council’s latest decision on Park and Ride is probably the policy’s last gasp. The councilwanted us to give up

driving and use Park and Ride, cycling andwalking instead.AGovernment inspector supported the council in approving our latest Local Planwith all the extra houses and other development. But Park and Ride is costly to run and

difficult to sell to the public, and as the councilwas forced tomake cuts and economies, big changesweremade earlier this year. The divisive onewas charging to park,with this payment entitling car occupants to use Park and Ride buses free. The big users beforewere residents

with bus passes. For them, both parking and the journeyswere free. They protested,were ignored, and votedwith their feet. Theywalked to bus stops and used service buses at no charge – or drove to town. It has killedmuch Park and Ride use

and the council cannot nowjustify the heavy losses.Other operators are being asked to put forward proposals, but do not hold your breath. We have lostArmstrong Road and

Si�ingbourne Road Park and Ride, and I nowforecastWillington Street and Allingtonwill go aswell. Strangely, I have not found ge�ing in

to town by car fromEast Farleighmy biggestMaidstone problem. It is busy, at times a nightmare, but such is the general weight of traffic, problems nowarise all over the urban area and inmany villages. Trymodal shift on that problem. I had a 4pmappointment at the Village

Hotel and gavemyself 45minutes from East Farleigh. The ancient village bridge

Death of Park and Ride

I REFER to the article “Park and Ride service ruined” published in theDecember edition. IwasMaidstone Borough Council’s

specialist transport officer recruited to introduce Park and Ride intoMaidstone, which startedwith the opening of Willington Street inDecember 1989. The Park and Ride concept for

Maidstonewas championed by the late MalcomRobertson, a long serving member of the council and formermayor whoworked tirelessly for its introduction intoMaidstone alongwithmany other members of the (then) planning and transportation commi�ee. Park and Ride did have detractors, butwas supported by many businesses and the Chamber of Commerce. The roots of the adopted Parking

38 Maidstone January 2019

Change, but notmodal shift MailMarks 


and railway crossing bothworked seriously againstme – two queues of cars were facing each other in themiddle of the bridge – and Imade itwith aminute to spare. Because I could notmanage a rush-hour right turn fromthe hotel I decided to try theAylesford/Hermitage Lane route – and that tookme 80 minutes. I used to travel faster to and back fromwork in Blackfriars, London, 25 years ago. We are desperately overcrowded in

Maidstone and theGovernmentwants to loadmuchmore on us in the next 15 years or so. It ismadness (more on Brexit in amoment!). I still think the town centremay

produce some of its own solutions. Manymulti-national stores and shops are facing enormous challenges,much fromthe internet, and I think theywill continue to collapse or cut back. I still fear for ourHouse of Fraser. Thesewill be replaced either by small

businesses (at rents landlordswill have to reduce) or, asGovernment suggests, by residential accommodation. Supermarkets and big storeswill

move to the outskirts because they know the significance of convenient parking (note our futureMarks and Spencers). Maidstone is still likely to have a busy

and popular town centre, but it is changing. The traffic load can diminish and spread out across the day and evening. Butwe shall still need the car parks at reasonable prices. Thingswill shift – but not to amodal


Strategy forMaidstone lay in the introduction of a residents’ parking scheme to free streets fromlong-stay parking byworkerswhowould be relocated to Park and Ride, providing more space for residents. Town centre car parkswere designed to

encourage shorter stay shoppers through a pricingmechanismwhich deterred all day parking. The strategy set out an overall “break even” position for parking,with pay and display income supporting a loss making Park and Ride. The resultwas a successful Park and

Ride schemewhich, in the late 1990s, had four sites. The schemewas so successful, it was copied bymany other towns. At its zenith,Maidstone Park and Ride

boasted about 1500 parking spaces and intercepted about 1,000workers’ cars each day before they arrived in the town centre. reducing pollution and congestion.

Don’tabandonBrexithope BYmassive coincidence, I arranged

lunch at Chartwell onDecember 11 – the day of themeaningful Parliamentary vote on Brexit. I think ofWinston Churchill and TheresaMay. WhatwouldWinston have done if he

had inherited Brexit as he inherited our strategy inWWII?He is one ofmy great historical heroes and I think hewould have cut through somuch nonsense to lead us to a fast and satisfactory Brexit to honour the nation’s referendumvote. I knowthatmany inMaidstone are

appalled by theway TheresaMay is handling Brexit, and howshe is prepared to surrender to the EUon several elements of the draftwithdrawal agreement. I thought shewould be a respected,

honest and democratic PrimeMinister, leading and consulting her chosen cabinet team. I nowsee a dictatorial “president”working behind the backs of her cabinet, Parliament and the people, trying to bully themin to submission after denying themmeaningful consideration of significant documents. Her gamble is not paying off. At the time ofwriting there is noway

of knowing howthiswill end.My feeling is that further detailed negotiationswith the EUwill be tortuous and painful and a bespoke trade dealwill not endwell for the nation. Canada andNorway have paved away and this iswhere our politicians need to start. I do not get a feeling of there being

many BOBS (Bored of Brexit) in Maidstone.We knowthis is the biggest challenge facing our nation since Churchill’swar. I have abandoned hope on TheresaMay – but not on Parliament taking us to a Brexitwhichwill lead us after teething difficulties to prosperity and proudly holding our heads high throughout theworld.

Fareswere good value,with children

travelling free.Many of the buseswere decorated by local schoolswhich gave a local theme and pride to the service. Before Christmas, a successful Park and Sail service a�racted large numbers of people fromthewest ofMaidstone and Medway. Sowhat happened?Abigmistake inmy

viewwas the removal of Park and Ride fromthe town centre parking strategy. This left it as a “stand alone” costwithout cross-subsidy fromotherMaidstone parking revenue. The other key element is that Park and

Ride does not run itself. It requires careful management, knowledge and close liaison with the bus operator to ensure reliability. This expertise has been lost and, together with the removal of full time a�endants, the creeping perception of service deterioration has led to reduced use.


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