Residents’ parking in Plymouth is a mess. That’s what the information I obtained from the city council using the Freedom of Information Act told me. There are parking zones with hundreds more permit-holders than there are spaces. There are tiny zones with only a handful of spaces. There are even two zones that don’t officially have any spaces at all!
The most oversubscribed zone is H – the one centred on The Hoe – where 928 residents’ permit-holders chase 551 spaces, competing with 119 business permit-holders, 15 people designated as essential visitors, and an astounding 19,264 holders of day tickets. There are four more zones where the number of people with residents’ parking permits outnumber the spaces for them to park in by more than 100.
A large number of zones are not massive and oversubscribed. Fourteen zones have just a dozen parking spaces, or fewer. One zone has just one space, with one permit-holder… a parking zone all to oneself! And two zones don’t officially have any spaces at all.
It’s a mess, so what should be done? Well, first of all, I am very happy to concede that there is no simple solution. A great deal of Plymouth’s centre was built before mass car ownership, with few driveways or garages. Sorting this out is like trying to pour a quart into a pint pot.
That said, surely there are some things that can be tried, and maybe it’s an opportunity to edge the city into a greener direction too (you may have noticed by now that that’s a recurring theme in my posts… it’s what the city needs).
Why not offer cheaper permits for people with smaller cars? These cars would take up less room, thereby helping everyone else. Why not write to all existing permit-holders reminding them of how oversubscribed their area is and offer them a full refund if they get rid of their car and hand it in. It might be the last little push some people need to ditch their car.
We could also look to take the oversubscribed zones and merge them with neighbouring zones that are under less pressure.
Some students use their cars to transport their stuff to and from the city at the beginning and end of term. Why not work with the university to try to encourage students from the same part of the country to share cars to do this? Again, this would take the edge off the pressure.
I looked into this situation last year, and in that time the citywide shortfall of spaces has got worse, not better. It’s time to act. It’s time to get creative. It’s time to set the city on a better, greener course.