Chilworth Hall’s management committee is keen to see if there is any way to improve the safety of the entrance/exit arrangement to the Hall’s car park. The car park and the driveway leading to it are part of the freehold of the Hall, and so the trustees on the committee are very much aware that they have a responsibility to try to limit the dangers that are becoming ever more apparent as traffic densities on the A27 continue to increase.. Several recent conversations about that have revealed there to be some misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions about the car park itself. A few years ago, the Parish Council acquired the Village Green from the brewery owning the Chilworth Arms. As far as the Hall’s committee is concerned, casual users of the Village Green are welcome to use the Hall’s car park at any time of the day or night. To an extent, we all have to recognise the Hall and the Village Green as forming, in combination, a local amenity.
What is meant by “to an extent”? Well, we also have to remember that the Hall is let to paying customers on the basis that it has a car park. Without paying customers there would be no Hall. Clearly hirers are not going to be happy if they turn up to their event only to find the car park already full. A few casual users of the Village Green using the car park are not likely to cause an issue. However, some residents consider the Hall car park as possibly providing overflow car parking for when they have a big event at home. While that may perhaps be OK in principle, it would be a problem if it filled the car park so that when the Hall’s paying customers turned up they had nowhere to park. It’s similar when clubs and societies arrange an outing with a coach pick-up outside the Chilworth Arms. Those getting to the pick-up by car naturally wish to park at the Hall, and the same scenario arises. It may only be once in a blue moon, but it’s still a big problem if there’s a clash.
There’s no perfect answer to this, but planning and communication will both help to avoid any ill-feeling. Donna Jones, the Hall’s Bookings Secretary, does a great job of keeping the Hall’s online calendar up to date, so if you are wondering whether or not the Hall’s car park is likely to be available, then it’s always a good idea to check the online calendar first. Even if the coast looks clear the next step would be to check with Donna. She is always going to be the best-informed about how much pressure there’s likely to be on parking on any particular day. If it’s possible to go ahead, then she’ll be able to warn everyone to step up their car-sharing efforts. Donna will also be able to say if she’s in final negotiation for a big hire on the day in question. Forewarned is forearmed.
One sure-fire way of securing the car park for yourself and your guests would be, of course, to hire the Hall, assuming it’s available. That way there would be no contention at all, and you would be helping the Hall in more ways than one. You may be surprised at the hiring rates – in the grand scheme of things, you’ll probably find them reasonable.
Finally, it may not be generally known that for more than six months a chap by the name of Richard has taken up residence in the Hall car park, sleeping rough in his Fiesta. The police have quite enough to do without worrying about apparently harmless vagrants, and the social services are well-known to be overstretched everywhere. Hall committee members have taken it upon themselves to try to find him somewhere better to go (e.g. the Emmaus Hampshire live-work community at Bar End) but ultimately no-one is going to force him to move from somewhere that he feels is relatively safe. If you have any expertise in dealing with the homeless, perhaps some counselling skills, that you would like to bring to bear then please get in touch by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.