Nottinghamshire County Council

Nottingham Parking – a change for the better?

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So, as of today the new ‘improved’ parking scheme is in force in Nottingham – will it help, or is it too little too late? Retailers and restaurant owners were up in arms when the council decided to start charging for evening on street parking – and quite rightly so in my view – it was a typically badly misjudged thing to do in such a depressed economy by our local council.

The decision to now remove the time limit on the on street parking is an interesting approach – parking will be £1 for 30 minutes up to 2 hours depending on which zone you are in. But, more importantly, the evening charge will be £1 for the entire night – a much better approach and one that hopefully will help the evening traders in the centre of town.

The removal of time limited parking may have a knock on effect though – up to now it has always been possible to get a space on a meter in town for a quick visit – they may now be taken all day – which would be a retrograde step.

Time will tell…….

Students and parking

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Parking is a bit of a thorny issue in Nottingham at the moment, not only do we have some of the most expensive regional parking charges for visitors to our city but we also have the workplace parking levy which has just been brought in. This later charge is going to prove interesting – I am already speaking to occupies in non Nottingham City locations who are asking me if their offices are worth more or at least more desirable to tenants because they are not caught by the tax.

It will be interesting to see if a two tier market appears to develop – I have a feeling it might!

A proper student car!

The latest parking ‘issue’ to hit the press is from the student population – now I am not ‘anti student’ we have a large student community that brings a huge amount to the city. But their concerns at being charged for residents permits in the areas they live does rather take the biscuit! I may well be getting old but do students really need to have a car? I know when I was at Nottingham Trent all those years ago most couldn’t afford one!

I accept if you are a mature student you may well have a car, but the costs of parking are all part of the bigger picture of car ownership aren’t they? And as a student do you really need a car, especially in a city such as ours which has such a good public transport provision?

So yes, I have sympathy for the companies and staff being hit by the workplace parking levy – it is badly misjudged by our council and may come back to bite them. But student parking? Come on, get the bus!

4G Nottingham?

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Not a good look - but you get the idea.....

We could become one of the first UK cities to get  super-fast 4G mobile broadband if Nottingham City Councils bid  for a share of the Government’s £100 million Urban Broadband Fund – which aims to bring world-leading super-fast broadband and wi-fi to ten of the UK’s cities – is successful.

4G – or fourth generation – is a more advanced version of 3G, the wireless internet that mobiles, laptops and tablet devices use. It is faster and means people will be able to access high-quality video and audio on the move – something that is becoming more and more of our everyday lives.

Only cities with more than 150,000 homes were allowed to apply for a share of the fund and from the shortlist Nottingham faces competition from Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester and Sheffield.

The UK’s four capitals – Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London – are guaranteed to be awarded funding as part of the scheme.

We have to wait until Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget speech later this month to see if the bid has been approved, but there is some additional potential for success – the high-speed data cabling could be laid along tram tracks while the works for line two of the tram are built over the next two years – saving money on the infrastructure costs.

How amazing would it be for Nottingham to be one of the country’s first 4G cities? Not only would existing businesses benefit from increased efficiency and improved connectivity, the city would also be in a much stronger position to respond to the rapidly emerging and anticipated future requirement of businesses.

Time to keep your fingers crossed and hope that the A453 announcement last year wasn’t a ‘flash in the pan’ for Nottingham.

You know how sometimes things can disappoint?

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In my work I am fortunate in being able to visit and see inside many amazing buildings. This week I have been given access to the old Home Ales building in Daybrook. This is a building that anyone who knows Nottingham will be familiar with, it is a true ‘landmark’ property with a great deal of history behind it.

20120211-141511.jpgAs a listed building it has many features that are quite impressive like its main staircase and external freezes. However, it also has a large clock on its tower which has been providing accurate time for Daybrook Square since it was built. I was quite looking forward to seeing the clock mechanism behind it – I expected it to be quite a monster with big cogs and wheels from an earlier age.

How disappointing therefore to find it is no bigger than a domestic toaster and basically an electric motor!

20120211-141824.jpgIt was good to find the ‘Ales’ signage on the next floor down though which has been saved to go back on the building when the Council leave (it is part of the listing).

The reason for my visit? Preparing an EPC for marketing as we are about to offer the building to the market on behalf of Notts County Council.

Finally some common sense from our council?

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I blogged a few weeks ago about the crazy change to the parking rates in Nottingham City centre. The council in their infinite wisdom had decided to start charging for evening parking (which had been free for years). This was not a popular decision from all angles, especially the traders who argued that the change would impact on their businesses and consequently reduce the councils income from parking and rates.

8pm is too late.....

I did not think this view was a particularly difficult one to see, but Nottingham City Council do appear to be somewhat ‘blinkered’ at the moment and are making some less than popular decisions. Now that is fine if it is necessary to balance the books in a sensible way. But if it bites the hand that feeds you it is just plain stupid!

To add to the local traders anguish at the same time Leicester were making more free evening parking available – and publicising it as a positive thing. It was commented on at our insite launch by the mayor of Leicester and was generally considered a good idea by all.

so it is good to hear that after having a meeting with traders the council in Nottingham are finally going to ‘consider’ their decision and initially suspend the Sunday charges. That is a step in the right direction, but lets see the 6 – 8pm charges removed as well, surely it makes sense?

Nottingham parking – what is the best way forward?

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Seeing more 'evening action' now

Parking in cities is always a thorny issue – we have a society that is now so dependant upon the car that we see parking charges as a tax upon our freedom. Perhaps more importantly it can have a profound effect upon businesses in towns or cities with ‘draconian’ pricing policies for parking.

I blogged recently about the changes in Nottingham city centre with regards to evening parking – the City Council have decided to charge for the period between 6pm and 8pm which was previously free and Sundays as a way of controlling long-term parkers. I don’t see this at all and would suggest that it has much more to do with lining their coffers with money.

The issue of managing parking to help the local economy should be at the top of all councils list of priorities, but interestingly neighbouring Leicester City Council have taken the opposite route.

It was November that Nottingham City Council introduced evening and Sunday charges as I have outlined above – it is fair to say that it has been universally unpopular – both with shoppers, traders and the churches!

However, at the same time Leicester City Council opened up 300 free evening spaces with the explicit intention of helping the night-time economy – to me this makes total sense in these hard times.

Nottingham insist their policy was needed to stop ‘some’ motorists taking up spaces for long periods – really? They maintain this will benefit firms and attractions by keeping parking clear for short-stay visitors. My experience is that there were always spaces available before this ruling – there are now lots free as people appear to be staying away. So has Nottingham shot itself in the foot?

I believe so – the amount the city gain through parking fees will be more than lost if the businesses that pay business rates to the council fail. So come on Nottingham, look at the suburbs who started charging and see what happened to them. Put the fees back as they were now before it is too late!

We live in one of the UK’s most desirable locations.

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it's nice up here in the East Midlands!

I am catching up on a few items I came across during the Christmas break that I thought were quite interesting – one of those related to recent research on the most ‘desirable’ places to live in the UK. The research by the Halifax bank was based upon the following criteria;

  • jobs
  • housing
  • health
  • crime
  • weather
  • traffic
  • broadband access

Now as you might expect, most of the locations in the top 50 were in the South & East of England – Nowhere in the north of England, Scotland or Wales made the list. But, there were 4 places outside these regions in the top 50 and 3 of them were in the East Midlands – Rushcliffe in Nottingham, Rutland, and North Kesteven in Lincolnshire. In fact two of the three were in the top 25 – their relative positions were;

  • 16 Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire
  • 22 Rutland

Rushcliffe is the area I am lucky enough to live in, but perhaps of more note is the fact that it is situated (and abuts) the City of Nottingham which is always being dragged down by the national media claiming that it has a high crime rate and is a terrible place to live (which it isn’t). Perhaps the BBC and the like should pay more attention to data such as this and amend their stories accordingly?

No doubt they won’t but again we have evidence that the East Midlands is a great place to live and work!

QMC roundabout ‘improvements’

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Anyone who lives in or around Nottingham will be more than aware of the road works that have been progressing over the last few months at the QMC and Priory roundabout’s. This has caused a certain amount of disruption and minor chaos at times – but it was going to be worth it right?

Well the works were completed approximately a week ago and some changes are obvious – traffic lights on the junction to control the flow around the junction. Now this is a concept that does appear to work on some junctions – the one below the Clifton / Lenton Lane fly over is a classic example. At peak times the lights function, off-peak they don’t.

The big ‘but’ though (and there was always going to be one) is that the lights on the QMC roundabout don’t appear to help – in fact they have made the congestion worse, and more importantly have caused numerous accidents!

Some of this can be put down to poor driving and a lack of awareness, but surely the Highways agency should be managing the situation better? It is also apparent to me that the phasing on the traffic lights is just plain wrong – there are now queues off the ring road in the morning which there never used to be.

I am aware of at least one car that was written off in an accident on the junction on the first Monday morning, and have been told of numerous other accidents. Perhaps the Highways Agency need to manage this a bit better?

Thanks George!

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So we are finally to get the widening of the A453 between Nottingham and the M1 at junction 25!

I can’t say I am going to get too excited until I see the work start – we have been here before and the rug was pulled! But assuming it does now happen this is fabulous news for Nottingham and will greatly enhance the City for inward investors.

It had appeared that the Government were unimpressed when the County Council offered the government a £20m contribution to bring the scheme forward. But the campaign to widen the road has garnered support from the local business community and other local councils, including a pledge of £500,000 towards the scheme from Rushcliffe Borough Council back in October.

Why did it need doing?

  • The Nottinghamshire section of the road is the second most congested part of the national road network after a short section of the M25
  • Scheme to dual the road has already been subject to a public enquiry and subject to the secretary of state’s decision would effectively be ‘ready to go’
  • Without the widening scheme, it is forecast that up to 30,000 vehicles a day will travel along the route by 2027, making congestion even worse
  • In the five years up to October 2010, there were 185 accidents involving personal injury on just the Nottinghamshire part of the A453.

Consequently the effect of this being given consent cannot be under estimated;

To the region as a whole, it has been estimated that an improved A453 will bring a boost to the economy of £540m.

Bring it on…………..

More transport madness

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One (of many) things that always causes me to have a rant is the totally bonkers public transport system in the UK. It is totally fragmented with little linkage between services.

It is an old hobby-horse of mine that when in Europe all public transport is integrated, you get off a train or aeroplane and a bus or tram is waiting for you (and visa versa). In the UK the privatisation of our public transport has created a situation where profit takes top slot – convenience and service provided are low on the priority list – consequently adoption of public transport by new users is low.

In Nottingham we have a great bus service for the City run by the City Council plus the tram which currently has one route but is due some new routes in the next few years. Currently travel on either can be done on City ‘Easy Rider’ cards. A basic but welcome integration of systems.

But, with the addition of a new line for the tram comes a new operator for that system, no longer the current operator Arrow Light Rail, the consortium which includes NCT, as it hands the network over to the new consortium, Tramlink Nottingham, which includes rival bus company Trent Barton. So, what is the problem with that I hear you ask – well as it currently stands you will not be able to seamlessly use the buses and trams on the same monthly or weekly pass. The Cities ‘Easy Rider’ will no longer allow free travel on the tram.

I am all for the new tram lines, the City needs to have a modern public transport system and the tram is the way forwards. But to limit easy use of the system by a large number of pass holders (suggested to be 11,000) is frankly crazy!

That is only half the story though – the withdrawing of the pass has nothing to do with the operating consortiums – it is due to new competition rules that the Government have brought in to ‘protect’ us!

So in ‘protecting us’ the Government have actually added another potential problem to the acceptance of the use of public transport in Nottingham by the masses.

Yet another home goal by the Government.