Crawley ‘gets the crumbs brushed off the table’ from County Hall, according to one borough councillor.
Mike Pickett (Lab, Southgate) started a petition, gaining more than 700 signatures, calling on West Sussex County Council to carry out a full review of the town’s current and future parking needs and take action.
He argued that while resources are limited, the authority had committed in 2015 to rolling out parking audits, but so far only a pilot in Chichester had been completed.
Cllr Pickett said: “There is the perception that you as West Sussex County Council treat the people of Crawley and the borough as a poor relation, and they get the few crumbs that are brushed off the table.”
County councillor Sue Mullins (Lab, Gossops Green and Ifield East) explained that for Crawley residents parking was a ‘very important part of their lives’.
She added: “It may seem small for us but it’s a daily frustration for residents and one they do not need in their busy and sometimes stressful lives.”
She felt that Traffic Regulation Orders ‘do nothing’ to solve the issues as the county council can only deliver three in Crawley a year.
She continued: “Parking at the moment is the biggest issue in Crawley and once again we are being seen as though we do not care, we are not interested, and it’s not on our radar.”
Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) said: “Seasoned observers of West Sussex like ourselves will know that the county council has a talent for doing nothing to a very high standard.”
Since the Chichester parking audit was completed in April, he felt it would have been useful for the committee to have a copy of the report.
A task and finish group, set to meet for the first time in October, will consider how parking audits might be refined, prioritised, and applied in the future to other towns and villages in West Sussex.
Cllr Jones thought Crawley residents had been patient and added: “It’s not unreasonable for us to press the council now to take some action.”
He proposed that the select committee acknowledge a lack of parking provision, especially in urban areas such as Crawley, and call for the task and finish group to look at how parking audits could be refined and rolled out with Crawley prioritised for the next space in the programme.
But John Rogers (Con, Cissbury), vice-chair of the committee, said: “What you are trying to do is jump the gun.”
Andrew Barrett-Miles (Con, Burgess Hill Town) added: “It’s a Crawley pitch which I do not think is appropriate.”
A response to the petition from officers said: “If it is accepted that audits might be applied to other areas a forward programme and mechanism by which audits can be funded and progressed will form part of the recommendations.
“It is not therefore possible to say to this stage whether a road space audit will be undertaken in Crawley or elsewhere.”
It also explained that while WSCC is empowered to manage parking and to implement waiting restrictions to improve safety and traffic flow, this ‘does not however amount to a duty to intervene where parking problems are perceived to exist’.
Cllr Jones’ recommendation was defeated by four to two.
After the meeting Cllr Pickett said he was ‘disappointed’ by the select committee’s decision.
He added: “The impression to many people of Crawley is Chichester is always given special treatment and the people of Crawley are not being treated at all and have to beg to get anything.”
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