There is a gradual, but perceptible, change happening on our streets in Southend-on-Sea. Slowly but surely our roads are becoming largely unwelcoming to all but those who reside in them as new residents parking schemes are implemented.
Whole swathes of the borough are now out-of-bounds to visitors as residents find a solution to the issue of too many cars and too few places to park them.
However, as a solution, resident permit parking creates it own problems. Excluding non-residents does not guarantee a parking space, and once a scheme has been implemented it is not long before those in neighbouring streets feel the impact of those displaced motorists who now seek an alternative place to park.
As a ward councilor I have to represent all within the ward, which means those who want their road to be for the exclusive use of those that live in it. It is difficult to resist these residents, if for no other reason than that there is often real distress for those who own cars in areas that are popular with visitors.
Nevertheless, if we keep adding new schemes the day will come when all roads are unavailable for the casual visitor. I am not convinced this is at all desirable.
I accept that roads turned into commuter car parks are not good, but neither are roads now made empty by draconian schemes.
We need a review. I have called for a review. We are sleep-walking into a situation where cars are effectively banned from large parts of the borough. Whilst some environmentalist may cheer at this, it does nothing to assist the ambitions of those who want a thriving town that attracts large visitor numbers.
As for the concept of having exclusive rights to the tarmac outside one's home - our roads are a shared resource, and we have to accept that we do not own the road outside our homes, and neither should we be able to dictate who can and cannot park there.