Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Charges push vehicles onto streets while car park is ‘never full’

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Residents say their roads are being overrun by shopping centre users after charges were introduced – while the car park “is never full”.

Workers at Mid Kent shopping centre in Allington near Maidstone have had to pay for a parking permit since December last year, having previously been able park for free.

The Mid Kent Shopping Centre at Allington
The Mid Kent Shopping Centre at Allington

Now staff are being asked to pay £50 a month to use the car park – equal to £600 a year.

The shopping precinct sits in the middle of a residential area with many roads around it with no parking restrictions at all.

Residents have grown frustrated as they say their roads are being filled by unknown cars.

Dave Watson has lived in Tichborne Close for nine years.

Dave Watson believes the roads should be yellow-linedDave Watson believes the roads should be yellow-lined
Dave Watson believes the roads should be yellow-lined

“It’s very unpredictable. It’s a quiet day today but sometimes it can be very bad,” he said.

“Some other roads aren’t so bad, but the parking here sometimes is diabolical.

“Sometimes the way they park on this bend is ridiculous in the mornings, they park up on the pavement.

“If a fire engine or an ambulance needed to come up here, they wouldn’t stand a chance.”

This is cause for concern for the 77-year-old as he has been in and out of hospital over the last four months with respiratory issues and been admitted on blue lights on occasion.

Car parked in Tichborne CloseCar parked in Tichborne Close
Car parked in Tichborne Close

He has also had bin collections missed due to the trucks being unable to get up his road.

He continued: “I haven’t yet had trouble getting out, but if I did, they would soon know.

“People on this road have spoken to these drivers before, saying I wouldn’t leave it there if I were you, but they just carry on and go to work.

“It annoys me all the time as there are plenty of other spaces to park. They get 90 minutes before they’re charged in that car park.

“I think these roads need yellow-lining. We used to live in Bexley, and we had yellow lines everywhere, they put them all around and that soon stopped it.”

Stuart Spoor said bins have been missed due to the road being clogged by carsStuart Spoor said bins have been missed due to the road being clogged by cars
Stuart Spoor said bins have been missed due to the road being clogged by cars

The parking in the shopping centre is free to all visitors for 90 minutes. Some customers also park along the roads to avoid going over their allotted time.

Stuart Spoor has also noticed an increased level of traffic on his road.

The 66-year-old said: “It can be a pain sometimes people parking up here, especially when it comes to collecting the bins.

“Someone at the council told me they couldn’t get the lorries down because there were too many cars parked.

“Sometimes there can be cars in every space up this road.”

Cars parked in Odiham DriveCars parked in Odiham Drive
Cars parked in Odiham Drive

But as much as the change affects local residents, it has also had an impact on staff.

Lesley Hayden, who has run the Barnardo’s store in the shopping centre for six years, explained previously how she thought the change in parking rules would affect her team of 21 volunteers.

She said: “They give up their time to help out the charity and I don’t think it’s fair they have to pay.”

“Some of them have mobility issues as well, so they have no choice but to park at the centre.”

Speaking with her again she said how pleas to the landlords to reverse the decision got nowhere.

The car park at Mid Kent Shopping Centre. Picture: Google Street ViewThe car park at Mid Kent Shopping Centre. Picture: Google Street View
The car park at Mid Kent Shopping Centre. Picture: Google Street View

She said: “Nothing has changed, all my volunteers have to pay £600 or park in the streets.

“As a resident as well, it has gotten worse. More cars are parking on the street.”

The issue has attracted a lot of attention, with councillors too getting involved.

Cllr Rachel Rodwell (Green), Maidstone council member for Allington and Bridge Ward, first started fighting the issue six months ago, hoping to discuss it with the landlords. But so far has not received a response.

She said: “Management of the shopping centre just isn’t engaging. They’re not willing to talk to us.

Cllr Rachel Rodwell has been chasing the landlords for six monthsCllr Rachel Rodwell has been chasing the landlords for six months
Cllr Rachel Rodwell has been chasing the landlords for six months

“The car park is never full and paradoxically they’re on the roads.

“We have residents asking for permits or double-yellow lines and now we have to think what’s the best way to sort this, as the company isn’t getting back.”

Cllr Rodwell is hoping to organise a face-to-face discussion meeting at the end of this month with residents in the area so they can talk about the issues they are facing.

She continued: “They want to make a revenue but the irony is by having these charges they are pushing everyone into the streets.

“They provide a service for the community but now they’re alienating everyone.

The Mid Kent Shopping CentreThe Mid Kent Shopping Centre
The Mid Kent Shopping Centre

“People are leaving notes on cars and some have reached their limits.”

The building is owned by LCP Estates Ltd which has been approached for a comment.

KentOnline asked for a comment six months ago without a response and this time it has been approached again via a phone call and several emails.

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