Free parking at town hall is set to be axed

April 7, 2009 8:12 PM
By Brentwood Gazette reporter in Brentwood Gazette
Cllr David Kendall, shop owner Nigel Clarke and Cllr Barry Aspinell.

Cllr David Kendall, shop owner Nigel Clarke and Cllr Barry Aspinell

FREE parking at the Town Hall is to come to an end amid fears that the new charges will deter shoppers from coming to the town.

A series of revised charges were agreed by the council's highways panel for all car parks, with pay and display charges to come into force at the Town Hall at weekends.

On Saturdays people will now pay between 80p for up to an hour and £10 for more than six hours from 8am to 7pm. Then on Sundays residents will be charged 40p per hour during those hours.

The Lib Dems oppose the charges and after the meeting, leader Cllr David Kendall said: "This is the wrong time to be introducing these charges when so many residents and businesses are really suffering.

"Free parking at the Town Hall attracted shoppers to the town and gave a boost to the local economy.

To start charging now will be another kick in the teeth to many local retailers and businesses."

At the meeting the chairman, Cllr Louise McKinlay said these charges had been factored into the budget, which had enabled them to offer such a low council tax rise.

She also explained that the spaces were usually taken by workers rather than the shoppers they were trying to attract. She said: "Anyone who actually visits the council's car park on a Saturday morning around 8.30am will see it's full already."

The panel also voted in favour of providing overnight parking at the Coptfold Road multi-storey car park at a charge of £520 a year, a cost to be reviewed in September and is to reflect the fact it is well-lit and secure. But those opposing it claimed it was too high compared to the £24 charged for residents' permits.

The council's director of environmental services, Simon Bennett again pointed out the permit scheme was subsidised.

Cllr McKinlay said the charge was similar or even lower than that made at similar parking facilities elsewhere. At Westbury Road car park residents will be able to park in the evenings and at weekends for £360 a year, it was decided.

And residents will be able to use visitors permits in the car park on an ad hoc basis.

The Lib Dems were again opposed to these "money-making" car parking charges. Cllr Kendall said: "We are very concerned about how much residents are going to have to pay to use the car parks at night.

"In our view any charge should simply be sufficient to cover costs, it should not be used as a money-making scheme."