Friday, January 29, 2010

The St Thomas' RPZ

The latest addition to St Helier's Residents' Parking Zones or RPZs went live at the beginning of the year. As with the previous RPZs, Cheapside and St Mark's, there have been teething problems; for people on the waiting list to get a permit it is particularly frustrating not being able to use the areas which were previously disc parking, while some residents who already have off-street parking are concerned about whether there are enough spaces provided for visitors. At the meeting accompanying the launch of the new RPZ, held for obvious reasons in St Thomas church hall, a number of useful suggestions were made, especially about how the number of parking spaces available may be increased, and the team at the Town Hall is looking into the proposals. These include making it legal to park on some parts of the street that are currently yellow-lined and removing some of the 'ugly' concrete planters, some of which have pretty stunted trees in them.

Most of the feedback we have received has been positive: residents of streets previously clogged up in the evenings and weekends by high-sided commercial vehicles are delighted to get some light in their windows; the Parish Wardens, whose activities are funded by the permit fee, are adding to the sense of security in town streets; in St Helier, as elsewhere, residents' parking adds to the sense of living in a particular neighbourhood, spares residents the headache of having to move their vehicles all the time, and means that if you live in town and want to drive out to the beach or the countryside you have a pretty good chance of being able to park in the vicinity of your home when you come back.

Though I don't qualify for a RPZ permit, I still get a real buzz when I walk in town streets and see the permits in the windscreens of most vehicles. It's the kind of practical politics that got me into this in the first place, and it takes me back to the first meetings of the working group which were held in the language school I ran in Don Street. Martyn Gallery was there, Bernie Manning, Jenny Bridge and several others. The latest RPZ has taken 12 years to deliver, but that's still not quite as long as the Millennium Town Park or a parish-wide recycling scheme.