Mr John Horne, Chairman of the Joint Parishes Group which includes Hollingbourne Parish Council, has written an open letter to Maidstone Borough Council about their plan to introduction a flat rate of £2.50 per passenger for the Willington Street Park and Ride which is used by many visitors to the Maidstone Town Centre from Hollingbourne. The present price is £1.60 with a concession for bus pass holders after 9.30am. The service is popular with Hollingbourne residents as it is a quick and easy way of getting into Maidstone during the daytime from Monday to Saturday especially as the infrequent and slow Number 13 bus from Hollingbourne to Maidstone may end in September. The deadline for further comments on this matter to Maidstone Borough Council is 12th March 2018.
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31 Birling Avenue
Kent ME14 4AT
27th February 2018.
The Parking Services Manager
Maidstone Borough Council
Maidstone ME15 6JQ
OBJECTION TO THE BOROUGH OF MAIDSTONE (OFF STREET PARKING PLACES) (Variation no 10) Order 2018:
A. Objection to the P&R flat rate car park charge of £2.50
B. Objection to the median level increase of car park charges at King Street and Wheeler and Brewer Street, which represent a respective increase of 50% and 30%.
1. Park & Ride: The stated intention is to charge a flat rate of £2.50 per vehicle , with bus tickets for up to 5 persons.
The P& R bus is an eligible service under the Transport Act 1958, and 2000. Section 145 A, of the Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 ,subsection(1) provides:- Any person to whom a current statutory travel concession permit has been issued and who travels on an eligible journey on an eligible service is entitled on production of the permit to a concession consisting of a waiver of the fare for the journey by the operator of the service.
In the result this waiver will be denied to an eligible person.
Accordingly, there is a discrimination against an eligible person, within
3-(1) (a) (ii) [for elderly persons or disabled persons].
It is to be noted that the Equality Act 2010, s.149 provides:_
(1) A public authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to-…………(b) advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
This section defines the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).This is a duty for public bodies to have due regard to the need to consider and apply fairness and equality in carrying out their functions, especially in making decisions or policies.
The Equality Impact Assessment , at Appendix 5, states:-
61.6% of users use an Older Persons Bus Pass. A pay to park tariff will affect all users currently using a pass to travel. However, the purpose of the P&R service is to improve air quality by alleviating the volume of traffic travelling into the town centre. Holders of the pass will still be able to travel into, the centre, free of charge using another bus service.
1. The greatest number of users and income for P&R come from concessions.
2. To state that they will still be able to travel using another bus service does not meet s.149(1) (b).
3. Further it is contrary to policy DM24 and “Bus Priority measures will be provided in order to encourage the use of public transport by seeking to ensure the reliability and frequency of services will continue to be made more accessible to users.”
4. This concession is important for the P&R acts as a hub service for the non urban community, which has lost many of the local services [for example, Banking] and are forced to travel to Maidstone Town Centre.
5. Finally ; it is inimical to “modal shift”, which was a main tenet of the Maidstone Local Plan.
This PSED has not been satisfactorily applied in the instant case. Accordingly there is an AGE discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
2. Increase of Town Centre car parking charges. The specimen revised charges, represent an increase of 50% and 30% respectively. This is excessive.
The Equality Act 2010 places a general duty upon the public sector. In the exercise of its functions, a public authority must have due regard to the need to: foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not.
There is an expansion in Town Centre accommodation for the elderly. Town centre car parks are used by relatives and friends when visiting such persons. A disproportionate rise in car parking charges do not positively contribute to the advancement of equality and good relations.
On these grounds, I object to the proposed Order.
Pictured below is Willington Street to Maidstone Town Centre Service 501 Park and Ride bus. The services runs from the Willington Street car park in the corner of Mote Park close to the Willington Street Junction with the A20 (Ashford Road) in Bearsted.