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October Executive Committee Meeting

28 October 2010
    1. 1.  Chief Executive
  1. Stuart Scholes was introduced to the full committee and his appointment as the new Chief Executive was agreed to be effected at the November Executive Committee. He would take over his full responsibilities as from the AGM on 17th November, though Chris Parker , the retiring Chief Executive, would as requested continue to represent the EGBA's interests in matters relating to MSDC and WSCC for a few months thereafter and until Stuart is ready to take over his full responsibilities.

    2.   The Future Priority for the EGBA

    During this year it has become apparent that the Association needs a new injection of energy and the Executive Committee has been looking at ways to revitalise the enthusiasm of its members to meet together and interact as a business community. We still have a sizeable membership of some 110 members, down from nearer 130 this time last year.....thanks in part at least to the recession and the banking crisis, but it is now more difficult to get the membership to find the time to socialise and network in numbers above 30 or 40 as in the past.

    The Committee has concluded that we have been expending our energies over too wide a spectrum, and that for a while we should concentrate more on trying to create a lively and closer knit business community rather than taking on issues with the County and District Councils on behalf of members, and concerning ourselves with local issues that businesses can probably manage well enough themselves.

  2. So, in the immediate future more effort will be invested in the association's networking events, finding interesting and attractive venues, introducing the membership to some of our local businesses and laying on short but topical presentations whilst members enjoy refreshments in conducive surroundings. 

    3.   Restructuring the EGBA

    In line with reducing our spread of activities, we will slim down the organisation. We will disband the three sectional sub-committees that represented the three distinct types of local business, namely "retail", "business parks" and "service sector" and run the Association through the one Executive Committee.

    In addition we aim to recruit a part-time manager, to represent the association to its membership during

    the week both in the high street and on the business parks. Meeting and greeting new arrivals to the town, taking the temperature of the members and helping to organise the association's events in a way that meets what they want and expect from, what is after all, their association.

    At the same time we will seek to recruit short-term an "on-line" social networking specialist, probably through a university graduate "internship". The role of this person will be to research the possibility of forming a lively internet forum amongst the membership, possibly using the "forum" capabilities already within our web-site's design.  

    4.   EGBA Manager

    This role is an exciting opportunity for someone from a business or professional background who now wants, or needs to work on a part-time basis for perhaps 15 hours a week. It will involve them working from home and answerable to the Executive Committee through the Chief Executive.

    Their role will be to promote the "association" within the town, both to its current members, to potential new members and to other organisations. To contribute topical material for the association's newsletters, website and forum and together with the administrator to organise the association's periodic events.

    Applications or recommendations should be made to Caroll Everest on caroll.everest@egba.co.uk 

    Executive Committee Members
    It was agreed that the committee should ideally comprise five or six voting members in addition to the three non-voting officers. In which case there are three vacant positions for next year, and it was agreed to seek at least three nominations ahead of the AGM on 17th November. Anyone interested in standing for one of these positions should advise Caroll Everest on caroll.everest@egba.co.uk 

Mid-Sussex Business Association Alliance

19 October 2010

Mid Sussex Business Association Alliance – October 2010

The EGBA was instrumental in forming this alliance in 2009 as an informal  grouping of the four business associations within Mid Sussex to have a combined voice when talking to MSDC on matters that were of common concern to all of us.

 

The members are:-       

The Haywards Heath and District Business Association  ( HH&DBA ) 
The Burgess Hill Business Parks Association  BHBPA )                                   
The Burgess Hill Chamber of Trade
The East Grinstead Business Association

 

We have an agreement with the Leadership of MSDC to meet with them twice a year to identify the issues that should be our first concern over the next six moths, and to agree what steps we should take jointly to tackle them.

 

Currently the primary issues that concern us are the finalising of the Council’s strategies for “parking” and for “economic development” and from the Alliance’s perspective there has been disappointment that our efforts to establish effective ways of working together have largely failed. 

Our Chairman Nicholas Soames convened a meeting between Garry Wall, the leader of the Council, and Gary Marsh, the cabinet member responsible for economic development, with members of the Alliance on 15th October to try and understand why this was so difficult.

 

It is fairly clear to the members of the Alliance that without either officers or elected members with meaningful experience of running businesses it is going to be difficult for the Council to understand why and how to involve business in their deliberations, and even more so for the Council to have credibility in talking with business representatives.  

 

Garry Wall offered to attend a meeting with members of the EGBA to explore the possible benefits of setting up a “business forum” in East Grinstead that could identify what meaningful actions could be taken to support business and encourage inward investment. This offer will be given consideration at the next executive committee meeting.

Car Parking – October 2010

19 October 2010

In March 2009, following the introduction of the new parking machines in the town’s car parks and in anticipation of the 40% uplift in the average level of car park charges due that were to be introduced the following month, the Association held a meeting to reach a consensus their view on the management of our car parks by Mid Sussex District Council. Following the meeting the membership voted by email on seven motions chosen to summarise issues debated, and the outcome of these votes was emailed to each District Councillor on the morning of the final meeting called to endorse the new car park tariffs. The first vote was unanimous in calling for meaningful and informed consultation with business before any future restructuring of car park tariffs or the ordering of new machines.

In early 2010 the EGBA was instrumental in forming the “Alliance of Mid Sussex Business Associations” with Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill to coordinate our views and ease the Council’s problems of holding three sets of meetings. Despite the Alliance being promised “working meetings” with the Council’s parking consultants ahead of the drafting of the new MSDC Parking Strategy, no such meetings were in the final event forthcoming. No meaningful consultation has taken place. The EGBA is now invited to make comment on their draft “Parking Strategy” document.

Our submission, available to view separately on this website, proposes in an attempt to achieve meaningful consultation, the formation of a “consultative committee” made up of representatives of the businesses, the residents and the Town Councils of all three towns together with three rural representatives six months ahead of any future parking review that restructures the car park tariffs. This committee can then, with professional parking advice, decide on the best structure of tariffs needed for each car park that both safeguards the Council’s need for income whilst balancing businesses’ need for well used car parks and residents’ need for cost effective parking. MSDC will not be obliged to take their recommendations, but will at the least be making their decisions aware of the informed views of their electorate.

This is a proposal that has the support in principle of our Town Council, our residents association the PRC, and our fellow business associations of Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill who see it as a painless way for MSDC to improve their community involvement record.  

 

 

ALLIANCE OF MID SUSSEX BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS

19 October 2010

MID SUSSEX DISTRICT COUNCIL’S DRAFT PARKING STRATEGY

 

OBJECTIVES & KEY ACTIONS    ALLIANCE RESPONSES

 

General Introductory Comments

 

Objective 1

 

Continue to operate a co-ordinated enforcement service for both “on-street” and “off street” situations whilst seeking to maximise efficiency where possible and adopt closer working with partners to provide a consolidated and flexible approach to all aspects of parking and management.

 

The Alliance endorses the need for firm but sympathetic enforcement of both on-street and off-street parking regulations.

 

The Alliance recognises the need for the WSCC review of CPZs but has concern regarding the degree

of  structured and informed consultation taking place with representatives of both business and the

residents ahead of the formation of draft proposals.

 

            Objective 2

 

           Adopt appropriate off-street tariffs, which serve economic, environmental and traffic

           management aims.

 

1.    Consultative Committee

 

A parking strategy should, in the view of the Alliance, set out the intervals within which, and the process by which, the car park tariffs will be reviewed and reset within the overall period of the strategy.

 

The importance of successful businesses to any town, and the importance of car parking arrangements to the businesses of that town, in our view require that the Council finds a way to allow representatives of “business” to participate in the structuring of the tariffs for the town’s car parks.

 

We would be sympathetic to residents of the town, and to the respective Town Councils also demanding such a “right”.

 

Structuring tariffs to maximise the needs of the District Council and of these interest groups is not straight-forward and requires all to have access to the requisite information to make constructive input. In the case of residents and businesses in particular they will also require some prior education from a parking professional.

 

In that businesses seek full car parks and Councils seek to maximise income from car parks clearly their aims are not in contradictory.

 

These tariffs should, as in the running of any business in our view, be reviewed at regular predetermined intervals not exceeding two years. We recommend that representatives of business, residents and the town councils should be selected to form a “consultative committee” some six months ahead of the District Council holding its review……thus allowing sensible time for them to consult their respective electorates and arrive at a consensus view between their different interest groups.

 

With one town councilor, one business association representative and one resident’s association representative from each town and perhaps three others representing rural interests this would suggest a committee of twelve as a maximum. Their deliberations would need to be conducted professionally and in confidence.

 

 We would suggest that they should be supported and guided in their deliberations by one member of the District Council’s parking team and by one representative from the Council’s parking consultant, and that the committee could also extend their education by consulting other parking specialists, machine manufacturers or councils as they so wish.

 

The District Council would only be required to give due consideration to the recommendations made by this committee prior to making its own decisions, but through this process three important improvements on current practice would in the opinion of the Alliance be achieved;-

 

a)      the review process would be seen to be transparent and professional,

b)      interest groups can work together to arrive at an informed consensus recommendation through a structured process,

c)      the Council’s decisions will be made in the knowledge of the informed views of their electorate.

 

2.      Uniformity in Tariffs

 

It is the firm view of the members of the Alliance that uniformity of tariffs between towns, and between car parks within towns, is both counter productive and unnecessary.

 

We are aware that there has been in the past claims of a commercial advantage by one town over another through differential tariffs. A consultative committee with representatives from all three towns reaching a consensus agreement would remove any such risk.

 

That East Grinstead’s short term car parks must have the same tariffs as Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill, when it is the only town with on-street parking meters makes no commercial sense.

 

The tariffs need to reflect both the town and the geography of the car park within that town. Distance from the station for example will justify tariff differences if the aim is full car parks and maximising income.

 

3.      Designation of Some Car Parks

 

The Alliance members have concerns that certain car parks need to have their designation changed.

 

In East Grinstead Chequer Mead was changed to short term in order to allow the need for  “car registration” details to be waived. This has left it with an inappropriate set of tariffs for the car park most remote from the town centre with the result that it is very poorly used, much to the disadvantage of the town’s businesses.

 

Chequer Mead should return to being designated “long term” but without demanding registration details.

 

In Haywards Heath similar concerns centre on Franklyn Rd/Triangle Rd. a central car par inappropriately designated “long term” and consequently consistently empty, a luxury the town can ill afford.

 

4.      Discourage Long-Term parkers in Short-Stay Car Parks.

 

The Alliance believes that a “consultative committee” would be able to identify real income effective restructuring of tariffs that would also attract more visitors and shoppers.

 

For example, it is clear in several car parks, particularly around the Orchard shopping centre in Haywards Heath, that long stay parkers should be discouraged by significantly raising the hourly rate certainly after 6 hours, if not after four.

 

Conversely, several long term car park tariffs should be made more attractive for the long stay parker.

 

In the view of Alliance members a considerable improvement in usage and revenue from the district’s car parks can be achieved by more intelligent and imaginative structuring of tariffs, and appointment of a “consultative committee” would be a way of realising some of this potential.  

 

            Objective 3

 

Town Councils to have the option to set the parking tariffs for off-street parking in their area over a specified time period, provided they enter into a contract with MSDC to guarantee the required income and any associated costs in implementing the change.

 

 

            No comment from the Alliance.

 

 

            Objective 4

 

Review current payment methods and implement improvements over the duration of the strategy period, e.g. enhanced pay and display, phone and card payment.

 

1.                  Parking Machines

 

We understand from talking to parking machine manufacturers that in general these machines have a ten year life and therefore, in our view, any “parking strategy” covering more than ten years should delineate the process by which, and the timeframe within which, the current machines will be replaced.

 

Again we would respectfully suggest that this be conducted in a transparent and professional manner involving the same “consultative committee” that we propose makes recommendations with regard to the structuring of tariffs.

 

Open consideration of the options that become available with the advances in technology as well as any sensitivities of the key interested parties through the involvement of competent representatives will in our view avoid the risk of similar errors as were made last time and at the same time will allow the Council to make their decisions in a better informed context and without prejudicing their responsibility for making the final decisions.

 

2.                  Car Registration Details

 

The requirement for these by the machines in the long term car parks is in the view of the Alliance quite unnecessary and seriously counter productive. The savings they were intended to achieve in the prevention of ticket transfers on departure to new arrivals, and in preventing penalised parkers obtaining someone else’s ticket to cover for an overstay are clearly dramatically negated by the parking public now being effectively discouraged from entering in the first place by the totally inappropriate key pads.

 

These requirements should immediately be turned off, as has been done for the short term car parks.

 

While the machines themselves remain, the Alliance would support a trial of their capabilities for allowing payment by credit and debit cards seeing as this was the potential they were purchased for in the first place.   

 

 

Objective 5

 

Continually assess and review demand, capacity and customer requirements with the aim of providing a sufficient supply of quality parking both now and in the future.

 

 

Some form of alleviation of the car parking costs of long term parking by employees in the town centres should be considered within the strategy to reduce the pressure that this group necessarily now  places on parking in residential areas just beyond CPZs.

 

Several schemes have been put forward and discussed in the past, and again, this is the kind of issue that a “consultative committee” as proposed for Objectives 2 and 4 could consider in a properly informed way, and make appropriate recommendations to the Council.

 

Objective 6

 

Work with partners and the private sector to ensure that parking issues are fully considered in the development of Local, Regional and any other strategic transport policy affecting Mid Sussex and that current policy relating to parking is considered in all aspects of development, parking provision and parking management.

 

The Alliance would assume that this was carried out as a matter of course.

 

 

Objective 7

 

Continue to support rural car parking in the District in partnership with local councils.

 

Agreed

 

Objective  8

 

No Comment

 

Objective  9

 

It is the current perception of the members of the Alliance that the Council’s commitment to “community involvement”, particularly when it comes to the business community, is sadly lacking, and that the level of informed and constructive consultation deployed in the drafting of this strategy was, in the view of the Alliance, quite inadequate.

 

It is in this context that we make the proposal for the setting-up of a “consultative committee” as a means of allowing “community involvement” without in any way prejudicing the Council’s right to make the final decisions.

 

Objective  10

 

Provide adequate facilities for minority users and continuously monitor demand to ensure current and future needs are met.

 

The Alliance endorses the need for parking provision to be constantly reviewed in the context of the disabled, and particularly with regard to the needs of the users of bicycles and motor cycles as alternative methods of transport to the car.

 

Objective  11

 

Provide information to customers to a high standard and continuously review provision to identify and meet customer expectation.

 

Business representatives in Haywards Heath have particular concerns regarding signage, concerns that are shared to a lesser degree by the other two towns.  

 

A “consultative committee” would provide a structured way both to identify such concerns, and obtain considered and serious proposals for resolving them.