Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Southport's biggest employer and the impact of 750 people working in a residential area

John Pugh and I outside Smedley Hydro
Over the years there have been complaints about parking in the roads around Smedley. A little background will assist in understanding the issue. This Government facility which includes the staff with the Home Office and NHS digital is Southport's biggest single employer. There are about 750 staff overwhelmingly drawn from the local area.  There are only 245 car parking spaces. It is not difficult to see why residents close to the facility feel they have a problem.

The issue was raised at the public Forum in Southport Town Hall and so it was John and I arranged to meet folk at Smedley to discuss the issue. In fairness the number of complaints I have received has significantly diminished over the years, a judicial application of yellow paint has helped as have the approach of the Smedley staff. As a generalisation I would say that the difficult manoeuvre of managing the disruption when 750 staff turn up to work in the heart of a residential area has been broadly achieved. There are, and will continue to be, incidents when that co-existence is not as successful as all would wish.

Since my last engagement with this issue Smedley have introduced a 1 mile rule that precludes anyone living in that distance from having a car parking space. And so it is that it is not unusual to see folk walking to work and some cycling. Smedley have introduced a drying room and a shower facility and the council have funded an extra cycle shed. I enquired about the take up of the Bike2WorkScheme but this being the Civil Service they didn't have figures, it was dealt with by another department. I intend to follow up this point. As the photo shows I cycled there as I live close by (I'm the one who forgot to take his cycle clips off).They have a car share scheme but in truth the numbers taking that up, although welcome, are not significant.

Smedley also have flexible working pattern which reduces the 'rush hour impact' and the night shift is only about 40 people.

I suspect that this is one of those issues that require eternal vigilance. A less concerned team at Smedley could easily result in local chaos

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