Tandridge District Councillors have delivered a massive snub to public opinion and voted against 2 hour free parking in Ellice Road car park.
At the full Council meeting on 20 April, a petition with 5,435 signatures in favour of 2 hour free parking, organised jointly by the Oxted Traders Association and Oxted & Limpsfield Residents Group, was presented to the Council leader, Oxted Councillor Martin Fisher, by Oxted businesswoman Barbara McNaughton-Khattri who owns Elements Hair and Beauty Salon in the High Street.
Addressing the meeting, she said: 'when you come to buy say stationery supplies or attend an appointment, or visit the health centre or library, you then wander along the High Street - see something in a shop that catches your eye, bump into a friend and pop into a restaurant or coffee shop - this is the routine for many, 2 or 3 times a week. Without 2 hours, you block that potential which is the culture and spirit of our community - we can all relate to that meter ticking mind-set that will cut short any shopping experience.
I say this from the heart as a business owner and resident of Oxted. I'm asking that you vote for our community.... To retain 2 hours free parking.'
OLRG Councillor, Jackie Wren, then put forward an amendment to alter the proposed 1 hour free parking to 2 hours. Councillor Wren and OLRG's Limpsfield Councillor, Phil Davies, both made impassioned pleas for the free parking period to be increased to protect Oxted's businesses.
But the amendment was lost by 26 votes to 13 with one abstention. Apart from OLRG Councillors Wren and Davies, all the other Oxted and Limpsfield Ward Councillors voted against 2 hour free parking.
They are: Cllr Martin Fisher (Oxted North & Tandridge and Council leader); Cllr David Weightman (Oxted North & Tandridge); Cllr Lindsey Dunbar (Limpsfield); Cllr Simon Ainsworth (Oxted South); Cllr Barry Compton (Oxted South) and Cllr Elizabeth Parker (Oxted South).
As well as OLRG's 2 Councillors, the amendment was supported by all 6 Liberal Democrat Councillors, all 3 Independent Councillors, and by 2 Conservatives, Beverley Connolly (Harestone, Caterham) and Liz Lockwood (Lingfield & Crowhurst).
Councillor Wren said afterwards: 'It is very disappointing that the Council has not listened to the combined voice of business and residents. I was pleased that we managed to get earlier concessions increasing the original 30 minutes to 1 hour and dropping plans to charge on Saturdays, but 2 hour free parking is crucial and this decision is a smack in the teeth for Oxted. Sadly, the Council seems driven entirely by its need for money and its decisions are increasingly not in the interests of the local community.'
The car park charges are due to take effect in a few months' time and will be:
0 - 1 hour free
1 - 2 hours £1.50
2 - 3 hours £3.00
3 - 4 hours £4.50
Over 4 hours £6.50