Or, I’m only a resident get me out of here

Hands up everyone who thought the Council run Arragon Road car park behind Waitrose in Twickenham was for everyone? Well it is, but if you’re a resident you’re pretty low down on the pecking order for finding a car parking space during the week, especially if you want to shop in Waitrose.

I asked two of the Waitrose management team, if they were aware of the problem. They certainly were. Since late last year Waitrose shoppers have been complaining to them that they find it difficult if not impossible to find a space in the largest car park in the borough any time after 9-30 on a Monday to Friday. Towards the end of February over a two-week period I spent several weekdays visiting the car park at different terms, and sure enough the number of spaces available during those visits, averaged 5 out of a possible 437.

It seems that the car park is now monopolised by three flavours of long stay parkers. Commuters who discovered during the cold weather transport difficulties that it costs relatively little – £8.70p to park from 7am to up until midnight – business users with a parking permit – and not forgetting up to around 150 Council staff who have permits allowing them to use the car park. If the latter all choose to park there on any one day that takes care of around 34% of the spaces.

I’ve had as little success as the mighty Waitrose in trying to point out to the Council that the scales seem to be weighted against residents who choose to do their main shop at that end of Twickenham. They don’t want to possibly do the obvious and increase the fee for, or restrict, the long term parking times. Why upset commuters, local business, or council employees when you can inconvenience residents who actually want to use the facilities in Twickenham. To be fair Terry Powell who is the Head of Parking Services has pointed out that Holly Road or York House car parks are only a short walk away – but I suggest he tells that to the more mature residents doing their weekly shopping and mums with their young children in tow.

I suppose if we’re that desperate to shop at Waitrose in Twickenham many of us might, with some difficulty for a large shop, manage it without a car. But why should we, when we’re periodically reminded to use Twickenham town centre to keep it alive – whilst the Council isn’t practising what it’s preaching to us as residents in terms of it’s green travel policies, by allowing well over 400 vehicles to either park freely or relatively cheaply there all day, each weekday. It might be interesting to hear Councillor Trigg’s (Cabinet member for Traffic, Transport & Parking) take on this. But for now it seems like for lovers of Waitrose the answer is Richmond or Sheen, where they have their own car parks.

Harry Jacobs – Broadway Avenue