Increases in parking fees to 'hit hard'

February 3, 2009 9:50 AM
By Brentwood Gazette reporter in Brentwood Gazette

MOTORISTS face a massive above-inflation increase in parking fees.

All-day parking in Brentwood will rise by a whopping 18 per cent from April 1 - from £8.50 to £10. Hourly parking will rise from 70p to 80p and a season ticket will increase from £90 to £95.

It means Brentwood council expects to earn a total of £1.7million from parking in William Hunter Way, Hart Street, Crown Street and Coptfold Road multi-storey car park in Brentwood, and Hunter Avenue and Friars Avenue in Shenfield in 2009 and 2010 - less than this year's expected £1.8million.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, chairman of Brentwood council's Highways Panel, has defended the increases, insisting that extra investments have to be paid for and that finances need to be balanced during the recession.

She said: "There is no evidence that people will be put off parking in Brentwood due to the increases.

We want to keep charges as low as possible. But if you want investment in car parks, the money has to be there."

Various proposals, such as a £160,000 deep-clean and installation of new lighting at the multi-storey car park are planned, and the council says it needs to meet increased costs.

Cllr McKinlay added: "For those people who park all day, the parking permits offer a massive reduction of 55 per cent.

"Our town centre is being significantly upgraded. The county council work in the High Street and the previous decisions by the borough's highways panel to revamp Crown Street and the car park are all set to provide us with a much improved shopping centre.

"The work to the multi-storey is the next step in this ambitious investment programme."

But Liberal Democrat leader Cllr David Kendall hit out at the increases.

He said: "These increases will hit local retailers, businesses and residents very hard.

"Many people who live and work in Brentwood have to use their cars to get into the town because of the unreliable public transport links, and they are now going to be penalised at a time when they need the council's support the most.

"The council is already seeing a drop in demand for car park season tickets at the existing prices so, when the new increases come in, the situation is liable to become even worse."