Parking issues have not been tackled in Whitby for many years, with the promise of a parking strategy review being made every year since 2018, but no action resulting. With this in mind, as well as recent events, we have written to NYC regarding the problems, and the need to address them with some urgency.
To: Barrie Mason (NYC, Highways and Transportation, Parking Services, Street Scene, Parks and Grounds)
Cc: Richard Flinton (NYC, Chief Exec), Karl Battersby (NYC, Director of Environment), Cllr Keane Duncan (NYC, Exec Cllr, Highways and Transportation)
I write on behalf of Whitby Community Network, an issues-based open group, that seeks improvements for those who live and work in Whitby and the surrounding district. As such, we work towards providing residents with what is needed for this community to be sustainable and a place where people want to live, work and bring up families, not solely a retirement and tourist destination.
We wish to bring some matters to your attention regarding parking within the Whitby parish. We understand that these fall into your remit; should there be a more appropriate colleague who is handling the specifics, please do forward this.
Tuckers Field (West Cliff Car Park)
Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), for many years, utilised land on West Cliff known locally as “Tuckers Field” for overflow car parking (200 spaces). North Yorkshire Council are continuing this trend (and indeed your website does not even mark the use of this green space as overflow any longer, as if it is for everyday use).
We wish to inform you that your use of this land is actually contrary to the purchase of the land by the tax payers of the Whitby parish, under the Public Health Acts 1875-1925. The land is solely held in trust on behalf of the rate payers of this parish, and the land was purchased for recreational open space for the public. Parking of vehicles is not recreation. To see the physical impact that this is having on the land here is a recent photo of the consequences of such a policy.
The other impact is that residents of this parish already have below the minimum requirement of green space for their recreation before we take into account misuse of this land, with the consequential impact on public health. Coastal communities like this already have lower life expectancies than the rest of the county, and this will only be exacerbated by the current practice. We were led to believe that correcting such aspects of deprivation was going to be a priority for NYC, see a report by your own Director of Public Health.
With that in mind, we request that you make steps to end the practice of utilising Tuckers Field for car parking. Indeed, continued use of this green space for parking will be viewed as an abuse of the trust in which the land is held.
The last week has seen the usual swamping of the town with tourists, serving, once more, to highlight the complete lack of a viable parking strategy for the town. Mass tourism has rendered whatever purports to be a “strategy” to be not fit for purpose.
Car parks were overflowing, resulting in parking throughout many residential areas in the whole town to the detriment of the quality of life for residents. The above photo shows parking along a significant length of Hawsker Lane, with such a quantity of vehicles that if an emergency had been declared in the vicinity of Whitby Abbey, there would have been massive delays in attending, with potential impact on life. Parking enforcement was absent. There appears to be little contingency planning taking place for major events like Goth Week, and it is the resident who has to face the consequences of this dereliction of responsibility.
A new Parking Strategy for Whitby was promised by SBC / NYC back in 2018, 2019, 2020 and every year since. It never happened, with broken promise after broken promise. Yes, we know that there is work towards a new Local Transport Plan, into which we have fed a significant amount of information. However, judging by the scope of the 2016-2045 Local Transport Plan, this will only provide macro level direction, and the related countywide parking policy will apparently take 12-18 months. We have been informed that alongside the parking policy NYC will be commencing development of parking strategies for larger towns like Whitby (answer to a question at NYC Scarborough and Whitby Area Committee, Sept 2023). We respectfully suggest that a parking strategy for Whitby is of the highest priority, and is seriously impacting on the quality of life of residents of the town. Please advise what are the timescales for resolving the problems with the currently deficient strategy.
The final point to make is that the situation with vehicle parking in this town is due, in a large part, to the failed public transport strategy for this part of the county, with utterly inadequate train services, appalling bus services, and a complete lack of investment in active travel. Lack of activity in resolving that area will also, in time, lead to the consequential failure in any climate strategy.
On behalf of Whitby Community Network, I request that you review the parking strategy for Whitby with some urgency to ensure that local interests are front and centre of the strategy being utilised. Thank you for your assistance in this important matter.
Whitby Community Network
We have since had a very prompt response from Karl Battersby, NYC Corp Director of Environment, as follows.
Good morning and thanks for the letter.
We do recognise the issues which you highlight, and now we have a head of service for parking in post (Steve Brown) we are moving forward on a County wide parking strategy. This will not be a one size fits all approach, but will recognise that each area has its own issues and challenges which need to be addressed. The aim is to have the strategy agreed within the next 9-12 months. We would very much value your views on how the local strategy, and I will ask the team to make sure you are involved at an early stage.
In terms of Tuckers Field, we will look into the legal issues which you have highlighted and come back to you.
We have now replied to NYC, requesting that an urgent assessment of the problems from the last weekend takes place to ensure that it does not happen again.