Car park charges increase is reasonable, says council leader

AN INCREASE in car park charges for season ticket holders will hurt town centre businesses as well as commuters, a borough council meeting heard.

Season ticket prices for Great Yarmouth car parks will rise from �55 to �70 per calendar month from this April, costing shop and office workers an extra �180 per year.

Members voted the new set of charges through at Tuesday’s full council meeting.

The increased rate will apply to all town centre car parks except Fullers Hill where season ticket prices will rise from �25 per month to �30.

But Labour councillors criticised the decision - pushed through by the Tory majority - saying it will lose shops customers and place commuters under pressure.

Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour Group, said: “Everybody’s suffering and they’re asking us to put prices up 28pc - any monies lost will be lost to other traders in the town.

“That’s �15 per month people are not going to spend on a cup of coffee, a bag of chips or something in Palmers. It’s not acceptable.”

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He added the increase was sudden and workers may find it difficult to budget for.

“Instead of putting it up in stages you’re putting it up 28pc,” added Cllr Wainwright. “At a time of pay restraint and high inflation, this is not the time to hit both office and shop workers - many of whom will be on the minimum wage - with any increase at all.

“Any additional monies that these season ticket holders are asked to pay could mean monies lost to other traders in the town at a time when town centre retailers are suffering a downturn in trade.”

But council leader Steve Ames said he thought the price rises were fair.

“Obviously it’s very easy to talk about price, but we’re talking about 50p per day which isn’t a bag of chips on the market,” he said. “Unfortunately it’s a lot of money to some people but I don’t think it’s a big increase.”

The new set of charges was proposed by Charles Reynolds, cabinet member for tourism and parking, and has now been approved.

The revised parking charges will also see Caister car park’s summer tariff fall from 60p to 50p per hour “in recognition that the surface of the car park could be better”.

And pay and display machines, which a council report says are “susceptible to regular failure”, will be replaced with new machines which accept credit cards.

Funding for the new machines is to come from a bid under the council’s capital programme.

The council is also to trial new 72 hour car park passes as a step-change towards introducing eight-day “rover” car park passes aimed at tourists.

The 72 hour passes will be sold for �10 from the seafront tourist information centre and will be valid from midday on a Friday to midday on a Monday.

Opposition to the scrapping of permit parking and fears over the cost of parking enforcement in the borough were also voiced at full council: Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour group, said he feared the borough would have to prop up the cost of civil parking enforcement with cash collected in pay and display machines.

He said he had seen emails from officers which suggest there will be a shortfall in funding for traffic wardens for the first three years, and Great Yarmouth will have to meet any deficit incurred across all of Norfolk.

He said any surplus of funding would be lost from the borough as it would go straight to the county council.

Cllr Mick Castle added that it is unwise to rely upon parking fines as a main source of funding.

But Mr Reynolds, assured cllrs Wainwright and Castle that funding generated in Yarmouth would stay in the borough.

He asked for a briefing note to be prepared to help members understand civil parking enforcement.

The county council’s consultation on axing the Great Yarmouth Residents’ Parking Zone A will conclude next Friday, January 13.

Removal of the zone and ending permit parking would mean all residents’ parking bays would be removed, motorists would no longer need a permit to park on these roads and there would be no time limit on parking except in bays which are already time limited.

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