On the 23rd February this website published an open letter from former Maidstone Mayor John Horne to Maidstone Borough Council about the proposed changes to the much used Park and Ride service into Maidstone from Willington Street on the A20. Over the last two months the letter has been one of the more popular pages on the Hollingbourne Village website. Last week Maidstone Borough Council confirmed their decision to introduce a universal parking charge of £2.50 per car and to stop the free use of the facility by bus pass holders after 9.30am as at present. The service is used by many Hollingbourne residents. Fares at the moment, where charged, are paid in cash to a bus driver but as from June the £2.50 fare can only be paid using debit or credit cards or via Apple or Android Pay. There is also a RingGo service but no details are to hand.
The original page won this website that has been well read is at http://www.hollingbournepc.kentparishes.gov.uk/open-letter-to-mbc-parking-services-about-changes-to-the-willingbton-street-park-and-ride/
Mr Horne is not satisfied with the decision of the Maidstone Borough Council to bring in a universal fare and he has now written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and his open letter is reproduced below:-
31 Birling Avenue
Kent ME14 4AT
13th April 2018.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission
Fleet Bank House
2/6 Salisbury Square
London EC4Y 8JX
COMPLAINT CONCERNING MAIDSTONE BOROUGH COUNCIL/
FAILURE TO APPLY PUBLIC SECTOR EQUALITY DUTY
In sealing the Borough of Maidstone (Off-Street Parking Places)(Variation No 10) Order 2018:
I am a parish councillor of Thurnham and the chairman of the Joint Parishes Group. I take a particular interest in the welfare of persons with protected characteristics within the rural community. Following the extensive closure of basic village facilities, such as local banking, Post Office and most shops, it is essential to assist the travel and mobility of such persons; particularly with regard to public transport.
We have an attenuated rural bus service and in some locations a disconnected rail service.
Maidstone Borough Council have closed Park & Ride sites. There is now only one service 503/501. The bulk of usage and income comes from concession pass holders. On the 10th April 2018, the Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee [SPST] voted to abolish any concessionary Park & Ride fares. Further, the new charges will only be available either by phone or contactless card. This will exclude many “protected persons”.
The Council EIA states—holders of the pass will still be able to travel into, the centre, free of charge using another bus service—-. The alternative services are being cut. They are simply not there. The situation is compounded by the fact that Maidstone Borough Council has substantially increased its parking charges and that disadvantages those less able to walk or cycle , when the bus services are minimal or absent in much of our Borough.
The PSED template requires a Public Authority in applying fairness and equality to persons with a protected characteristic to take a holistic view of their needs and welfare. This is missing in the instant case.
During the formal consultation, and at the meeting on the 10th April 2018, I presented a fully reasoned argument drawing attention to the requirements under s. 149(1) (b) Equality Act 2010. This was totally ignored by the Committee and by the Officers.
In summary; In making the Variation Order the PSED has not been satisfactorily applied in the instant case. I have set out a summary indication in my attached files.
Accordingly, there is indirect AGE discrimination and indirect DISABILITY discrimination under paragraph (i) and (ii) The Borough of Maidstone (Off Street Parking Places) (Variation No 10) Order 2018.
I request the Equality and Human Rights Commission to assess the complaint and if it is substantiated to view the matter further.
Enc/ Copy of my particular objection to MBC.
Copy of my statement on the 10th April 2018*.
- Reproduced below:-
The Borough Insight stated the revised details and pricing for the P&R service before it was approved by this Committee. A case of officers jumping the gun.
The EIA at Appendix 5..states the purpose is to improve air quality by alleviating volume of traffic.[ Yet no mention is made of Council members or Council Officers and their free of charge parking ].
Holders of the pass will still be able to travel into the centre free of charge using another bus service. But this fails to meet the Public Sector Equality Duty in applying fairness and equality to persons with a protected characteristic- namely, the elderly and the disabled.
There is a need for relevant town centre bus stops for the elderly-carrying shopping bags & for the disabled, who have reduced mobility and may require walking aids. All can then travel home with motobility. This is not available using other bus services. They are simply not there.
The assertion by officers does not meet s.149(1)(b) Equality Act 2010.
The Council has not considered the substantial affect upon the elderly and the disabled. Who, following the closure of Local Bank Branches are forced to travel to Maidstone. Accordingly, this is p.f. Indirect Discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and is also contrary to local policy.
I ask that the matter is deferred and that there is a positive contribution to the advancement of equality and good relations.
Hollingbourne residents who wish to get into Maidstone Town Centre often use the Park and Ride as it is quicker than the Number 13 bus which takes about 40 minutes to get there from Eyhorne Street and only runs every two hours during the day. At the Annual Parish Assembly in the Village Hall on 10th April Mr Norman Kemp of NU Venture who run the bus service during the week told the meeting that it could be under threat if more people do not use it. It is subsidised by KCC and they are seeking financial savings and the service could be at risk although it is an essential facility for many residents.
Pictured below is the Willington Street Park and Ride which is currently free to bus pass holders after 9.30am.