In 1947, Thomas Vale and sons sold a piece of land to the council in Stourport for use as a free car park for residents of the town.
For many people who live in the narrow streets of Mitton, the car park is the only place where they can leave their cars. For worshippers at St Wulstans Catholic church next door, it is the only place to leave cars for services, funerals, christenings etc. For shoppers on Stourport’s beleaguered High Street, it is one of few places to park in the whole town.
Several times in the past, the borough and district councils of Stourport and Wyre Forest have tried to impose parking charges on the site but the local residents and the Vale family have always argued that it was handed over on the promise that it would always be free. The council has always backed down. The last time this battle was fought, the council agreed that it would only ever charge for the car park if a pedestrian crossing was built over Vale Road so that shoppers could more easily reach the town centre.
Now, Wyre Forest is dismissing those former gentlemen’s agreements and imposing charges. The Chief Executive has refuted claims by the Vale family about the use of the land and the Councillor in charge has posted an unsigned and incomplete contract from 1947 as “proof” that the council bought the land without any stipulations.
Meanwhile, the council has given permission for Tesco to build a giant supermarket with 300 parking spaces just far enough away from the town centre to ensure local business doesn’t benefit.
The charges they propose are, they say, in the interests of consistency and equity across Wyre Forest, yet they are twice as much as some other areas. Meanwhile, the residents of Mitton who have nowhere else to park are suddenly being landed with a stealth tax of £260 per year for a permit – double the price of Residents Parking Permits in Central London. Notably, this was not included in the public consultation documents for the parking review, so most residents were unaware that they had a right to complain.
We believe that Thomas Vale gave over the land because he wanted it to be for the benefit of residents and businesses, not for the profiteering of the council.
We believe that there is nothing fair or equitable about forcing residents to pay £260 per year when they have no choice about where they leave their cars at night.
We believe that imposing charges on shoppers for the High Street when Tesco shoppers park for free poses a threat to the economy of the town.
We further believe that the public consultation was not given proper prominence or clarity and that the public have not been given fair opportunity to express their views. The council will finally vote on this matter towards the end of September and we urge people to write to council officers, councillors and the press to complain, as well as placing their signatures on this petition.
We, the undersigned, request Wyre Forest District Council to reverse its decision to impose parking charges on users of the Vale Road car park, to respect the wishes of Thomas Vale and family and maintain a free parking space for the benefit of residents, worshippers and visitors to Stourport and agree so in writing for perpetuity.
The Protect Thomas Vale's legacy of a free car park for Stourport petition to residents of Stourport on Severn was written by Neville Farmer and is in the category Roads & Transport at GoPetition.