A concerned member of the public has researched the vehicle data used by Surrey County Council (SCC) in its car park charging plans and that research appears to show a pattern in how vehicle parking numbers prior to charging were reported and used by the Countryside Estate.
When the case for car park charges at Newlands Corner was first presented to SCC cabinet in Oct 2015 it was stated that there were 122,000 vehicles each year parking there. Following a Freedom of Information request, SCC eventually admitted that the actual figure, based on vehicle counters, was 255,000 in the year to January 2016.
Similarly, when the case for car park charges was presented to SCC cabinet in Jan 2018 for the other commons, at Chobham, Whitmoor, Rodborough, and Ockham & Wisley and Norbury Park, it was stated “..monitoring figures suggest that there are 446,000 cars visiting the sites annually”. However, analysis of the raw data from parking counters provided in an FOI request indicates the actual numbers parking at the 5 commons was likely to have been closer to 900,000.
The results of the analysis were sent to SCC along with a covering e-mail on 7 December 2018 raising concerns. So far, there has been no response to that e-mail.
Why would low numbers be used? Was it to make the car park charging scheme look better in the event of a catastrophic drop in the number of people using the commons after charging was introduced? You can make your own mind up after reading the analysis of the parking counter data and accompanying e-mail. Links to these documents are below:-
The Countryside Estate has resisted all requests for vehicle figures and income from parking charges since the scheme was introduced.