No plans to increase parking charges in Chichester for a year

There are no plans in the pipeline to hike up car parking charges for the next 12 months, the district council has promised.

After defending its decision to introduce car parking charges on Sundays last week, the council stated there are currently no plans to increase charges further over the coming year.

Director of employment and prosperity Paul Over said: “Please don’t suggest we plan to increase charges. Legally and technically the council can do that. But the council has said these charges are for a year. There is currently no plan to do anything else.”

Councillor John Connor, cabinet member for the environment, added: “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Mr Over and Cllr Connor responded to the Observer’s front page last week about the council’s decision to introduce Sunday charges in Chichester, despite a 1,488-signature petition from residents and groups calling to stop the move.

In the report leading campaigner Andrew Hooper accused the council of forming a ‘cartel’ with the county council, to force people into its ‘lucrative’ car parks.

However Mr Over said the problem had not been properly put into context.

“If you ask somebody, without putting context in place, if they would like to pay for something they are currently getting for nothing, the answer you’re going to get is pretty obvious,” he said.

“If you asked ‘would you be prepared to pay £1 to visit Chichester on a Sunday, and by doing that you are also contributing towards the protection of essential services’, you would get a different response.”

Cllr Connor has previously said the district and county councils would have to ‘harmonise’ with each other over car parking. Responding to the ‘cartel’ accusation, Cllr Connor said: “What I meant was officers would work with the county council. With the on-street car parking for the county council, we are their agents. We’ve absolutely got to work with them.”

And responding to the notion that drivers may soon turn to cramming road spaces to avoid car park charges, Cllr Connor added: “If problems are created it is possible we might have to talk with the county council of what to have in place to deal with that.”

There are currently 179 spaces in Chichester where drivers can park on-street for free. The district council receives around £4.6m from parking charges every year. After costs it makes around £2m from the charges.

During the council debate on January 24, he proposed to extend the validity of season tickets to cover Sundays and reduce the charging period from 8am-6pm, to 10am-5pm. Councillors voted 29-7 in favour.

WEST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL’S MOTIVATION ‘NOT REVENUE GENERATION’ FOR PARKING ZONES

Cabinet member of highways and transport at West Sussex County Council, Pieter Montyn, said: “I would like to respond to the allegation made by Mr Hooper in your paper last week which said the district and county councils were trying to form a ‘cartel’ to ensure there is no free parking in Chichester on Sundays.

This is simply not the case.

“The district council is responsible for off-street parking and the county council for on-street parking. “WSCC was consulted on the Sunday charges issue and our position is neutral. WSCC’s current review of on-street parking has been underway since mid-2011 and is not being driven by the introduction of Sunday charges in car parks.

“The main reasons behind the review are to help improve effective traffic management and ensuring that the existing Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) fulfils its purpose for local residents and businesses. Our motivation is NOT revenue generation. In fact county council policy is that CPZs should be self-financing with permit charges designed to only cover ongoing operational costs.

“If the district council’s decision to charge in their car parks on Sundays moves cars onto residential streets, then the county council would monitor this and may need to review the operational hours/days of parts of the Controlled Parking Zone in Chichester in the future.

“Any review would be subject to full consultation with all interested parties and changes would only be made if the majority of the public wanted them.

“The only reason we might need to review is to ensure that the CPZ is working appropriately and that means managing congestion, improving access to shops and services and improving safety in the city. It would not be about creating revenue.”