Opposition from city ward members, local traders, the Dean of Chichester and the mayor of Chichester failed to scotch proposals for Sunday charges in city-centre car parks at Tuesday’s meeting of the district council.
There were claims people all over Chichester would be the main sufferers because streets would be clogged with parked cars on their current ‘day of respite’.
Two years ago, the council threw out a Sunday charging scheme, after a warning the cathedral city’s ‘special Sunday feeling’ would be lost.
But voting on Tuesday was 23-16 in favour of charges – a tariff of £1 for four hours and £2 for over four hours in the long-stay car parks, and the standard current tariff in the short-stay car parks.
The council also voted to support proposals to introduce franchised services in city car parks, to include car washing and valeting, windscreen repairs, advertising and exhibitions.
The idea of introducing evening charges in the car parks has been dropped by the cabinet.
Cllr John Connor, cabinet member for environment and community safety, said the Chamber of Commerce was vehemently against Sunday charges, and the Dean of Chichester, the Very Rev Nicholas Frayling, had expressed his ‘deep concern’ about the possible effect on visitors, charitable organisations and businesses.
Cllr Connor said the council had no alternative means of funding beyond council tax and support grants, other than charges for discretionary services such as car parking.
The proposed charges were modest, in line with – and in some cases lower than – neighbouring areas.
“They are proportionate and necessary,” he declared.
Cllr Clare Apel said: “We who live in Chichester are pleased to have peace on our roads on a Sunday.
“This will change, because people will clog up the roads on Sunday as they are not prepared to go into car parks.”
Cllr Martyn Bell warned: “This will drive traffic on to the streets of Chichester, not just within the walls, but all round the city, on the one day residents get respite from people parking outside their house or blocking their drive. People will simply park where they can on the streets.”
But Cllr Tony Dignum said the council cabinet was right to recommend Sunday charges, because the alternative would have been an even bigger increase in weekday charging.
He urged Cllr Connor to liaise with West Sussex County Council to get harmonisation of rates and times for on-street parking.
Cllr Connor said the council would be enforcing regulations on the street where it was legally able to do so. He understood the county council was considering how it could adjust its parking regulations.
Cllr Peter Budge said it was wrong to make money by increasing charges – the council should look at costs instead, and drive these down.
City mayor Cllr Tony French, who is chairman of the Chichester parking forum, said the district council threw out the idea of Sunday charges two years ago, and he hoped it would throw it out again.
And Cllr Quentin Cox said he regretted the proposed erosion of the difference between Sundays and weekdays.
Cllr Michael Woolley questioned whether an assessment of the effect on shops had been made, but Cllr Connor said he did not believe the charges would have a drastic effect on commerce in the long run.
Cllr Julie Tassell said loads of people went shopping on Sunday. “I don’t see why they shouldn’t pay like they do every other day,” she asserted.