This afternoon I was invited by my colleague Glenton Brown to come to a meeting with residents and businesses in Boscastle to discuss the impact of the proposed parking changes on their village.
Boscastle is predominantly a tourist venue, but the car park there is also used by locals and by people who work in the dozen or so businesses in the harbour area. As anyone who has been there know, it is also incredible hilly and has just a single car park.
The main message to come out of the meeting was the anger at the lack of involvement of local people and the parish council in the decisions that have been taken affecting the area. As with other areas in North Cornwall, there is an overall increase in the hourly parking rates as well as a huge increase in the cost of a season ticket.
The 'one size' fits all nature of the proposed changes are simply not right for Boscastle in the view of locals. The proposal is to charge from 9am but to finish charging at 4pm. That might be right for some areas, but is wrong for this village where locals tend to use the shops early and tourists arrive later in the day and stay into the evening. The village is therefore asking for a reconsideration of the charging hours to start (and finish) later. There was even a consensus that the overall charging period could be made longer - so long as the charges were fair.
The other main point being made is that, whilst the tourist economy might be a little more robust than the amount that locals can afford, this should not be an excuse to squeeze visitors until the pips squeak. Cornwall relies on repeat visitors and bad news travels fast.
As I have said before, parking is not a cash cow. You cannot demand a certain amount from the service and expect to receive it automatically. But you also have to make sure that proposals are right for the local area. Dictating parking charges from Truro is not the right way to go about things. It may take slightly longer, but talking to town and parish councils will bring a fairer result and might even lead to a higher overall income at the end of the day.
A number of people from Boscastle will now be travelling to Truro next Wednesday to lobby councillors before the Cabinet makes the final decision on parking charges.