Businesses and residents have united against new car parking charges being considered for the city centre.
With the district council under mounting financial pressure, it believes it could net £680,000 through the move, which would introduce £2-a-day Sunday parking and £2 overnight fees in its central pay and display parks.
But the proposals, which were revealed in last week’s Observer, have prompted considerable concern over its impact on trading and are also being seen as a ‘tax on worship’ for those attending Chichester Cathedral services.
Iain Shepherd of Chichester Chamber of Commerce expressed dismay over the council failing to conduct an economic impact study which it had requested as part of consideration of parking increases.
He said: “The chamber has always been opposed to Sunday parking charges and we told the council two-and-a-half years ago that an economic impact study needed to be done.
“There are a lot of older people in the town who are on tight budgets, are not so mobile and need a day, Sunday, when it is quieter to use the city centre. We made our views clear at a parking forum meeting last week, along with the Federation of Small Businesses.”
Chamber colleague Louise Fenwick added her concerns.
“Chichester needs a night-time economy boost and charging for parking will not do this,” she said.
“It will also affect theatregoers. By providing pay-on-exit rather than pay-and-display, which restricts shoppers to a time limit, more people would stay longer, so an increase in prices would not be necessary.”
Chichester businessman Andy Marcou added: “Parking in Chichester is a contentious issue and has been for a long time. Traders in St Pancras and The Hornet are not able to park as people are being forced out of the town centre because of parking charges.
“There’s definitely need for more parking in the city – which does not have a park and ride.”
The district council is due to make a decision on parking by the end of this year.