Parking hike could be axed after firms’ anger

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Business leaders in Emsworth have praised the decision to hold a review into the plan to increase parking charges which they fear would drive customers away.

Charges were set to be increased across the borough, but councillors faced a backlash from businesses who felt the hike would put people off shopping locally.

Leader of Havant Borough Council Tony Briggs has put the brakes on any immediate increase, and has asked for a three month review to find out a better way to tackle what he described as a ‘political football’.

“Parking becomes an issue in the budget every year, it does seeem to me that it’s not helping local traders,” he said.

“It’s become a bit of a political football. What I really want to do is take it out of that area and find an equitable way of making the council’s income, while at the same time supporting local businesses.

“It’s an on-going issue that we are addressing through the council. Quite clearly over the last four years we have not raised local taxation, we have achieved that by being much more efficient.

“The current climate is difficult for many people, both businesses and rate payers and we are trying to do everything we can to minimise the impact it would have on them.”

Cllr Briggs has put councillor Andrew Lenaghan in charge of the review and is hoping a soluttion can be found by looking at how other authorities administer their charges.

Emsworth Business Association committee member Sue Treagust, owner of butchers HH Treagust and Sons said the review could only be a good thing.

“That’s definitely got to be a benefit,” she said. “It’s a bonus it has been put off.

“Any increase in price of car parking charges is going to be detrimental to Emsworth as a whole.

“It’s a vicious circle really, if the businesses suffer then you are going to get lack of footfall in Emsworth because of the charges.

“It seems ridiculous to pay 90p for the first hour to park to get a loaf of bread and a paper.”

The plan was to put the price of parking up and to introduce Sunday charges which would have raked in an extra £180,000 a year for the council.

It would have been a flat fee of £1 for any length of stay on a Sunday and bank holiday, while South Street, would have gone up by 20p for one hour, rather than the 10p in other areas.

Charges were proposed to go from 70p to 80p for one hour, £1.50 to £1.60 for two hours, and £2.20 to £3 for up to four hours at Palmers Road.

The South Street car park would have been increased from 70p to 90p for one hour and £1.50 to £1.80 for up to two hours, and a new £3 rate for up to four hours.