PARISH councils throughout the East Riding have been urged to follow the example of a town council which is resisting controversial new parking charges.
Residents have backed plans by Hessle Town Council to take over three East Riding Council car parks – even though it will cost them an extra £14 per year on average on their parish council tax.
Moves to introduce car parking charges in previously free car parks sparked a huge backlash in 2009.
Opponents argue it hits local shops trying to compete with out-of-town supermarkets offering free car parking and will also lead to residents having to pay for controlled parking zones to deal with motorists trying to escape the charges.
Chairman of Hessle town council and town mayor Phil Davison said the increases would raise around £84,000, enabling them to lease the car parks from East Riding Council: “I think it endorses what we have been saying for years. I just feel it is a short-sighted policy determined by people who live in areas like Beverley and Bridlington who think if they have car parking charges, you should as well.
“But to compare the two is wrong.”
Coun Davison added: “I would certainly urge town councils, parish councils that represent these areas, to resist car parking charges because I think it will have a devastating effect.”
A questionnaire was sent to residents asking whether they supported the town council taking on the lease of the Town Square and Hessle Foreshore parks. Although under 10 per cent responded – just 555 inhabitants – 82 per cent were in favour.
When the plans were first mooted in 2009, it was estimated the new charges would bring in an extra £347,852 a year. But the cost of employing more wardens, buying new machines and vehicles, and paying for consultants to oversee the introduction of more controlled parking zones to deal with the overspill from newly-charging car parks, was put at £339,367 annually – with just £9,000 going into council coffers.
A review panel, which recommended the charges, said it was about making the system “fairer” because towns like Beverley and Bridlington had shouldered the majority of the fees in the past.
However Hessle and East Riding councillor Brian Jefferies said: “Our view was that we didn’t want to risk losing small businesses in settlements across the East Riding for £9,000. Residents were mainly concerned about the loss of local shops and seemed quite happy to pay a small amount to retain those facilities.”
Charging in previously free car parks in Anlaby, Cottingham, Hessle, Pocklington, Stamford Bridge and Willerby, still haven’t been introduced because of a caveat that they would only come in “following two quarters of successive growth at a national level”.
When they are there will still be free car parking for half an hour in all short stay car parks in the East Riding, except Beverley and Bridlington.
Coun Jefferies said he did not believe the charges would come in the next financial year, but they had to raise the money now “just in case”. “Even if we don’t spend it next year we will keep it for when the lease starts and we start paying rent,” added Coun Davison.
Council leader Steve Parnaby said he welcomed the move. He said: “I am absolutely delighted and congratulate Hessle Town Council on their decision. This is what it should be about, local communities looking after local communities. One way or another there is no such thing as free parking – you either pay at the machine or you pay every month on the council tax.”
Coun Parnaby said introducing charges, because of the state of the economy, looked unlikely “for the foreseeable future”.