Evening parking charges introduced at two Chichester city centre locations earlier this year are ‘peevish’, according to one Tory councillor.
From April charging hours for visitors to Northgate and New Park Road’s car parks were extended from 6pm to 8pm by the Conservative controlled Chichester District Council.
The level of charges at council-run car parks for 2018/19 was agreed by cabinet members on Tuesday (November 7), and are not set to be considered again until April 2020.
But Tricia Tull, a Tory councillor for Siddlesham, said she remained ‘unconvinced’ evening charges were a good idea, and suggested the efforts of New Park Centre were being ‘undermined’ by the changes, while Chichester Festival Theatre’s restaurants and bars had seen a reduction in takings.
She added: “There is no need for these unpopular and rather peevish evening charges.”
She also described the introduction of ‘get what you pay for’ to be ‘long overdue’.
Tony Dignum, leader of the council, said: “No parking charges are popular, but the point is like any business we have to make the money where we can at the least harm to our residents as a whole.”
He added: “The income raised from the charges is used to meet the direct costs of operating the car parks and also to support the whole range of the council’s services. Without that income many services would have to suffer severe cuts.”
Officers said the privately owned car parks in Chichester had similar charging regimes until 10pm, but they would continue to monitor the situation to ensure there were no ‘adverse impacts’.
Susan Taylor, cabinet member for planning services, suggested the £75,000 raised from evening parking charges in six months showed ‘people are parking there’.
It was also pointed out that other car parks, which did not have evening charges, are nearby both Chichester Festival Theatre and New Park Centre.
Cabinet members decided not to change Sunday long stay car parking charges, rejecting recommendations to bring them in line with what is charges during the week.
A ‘simplified’ tariff of 80p an hour will be introduced at the city’s long-stay car parks, with stays of more than six hours costing a flat fee of £5.60.
The up to two hour tariff in the city’s short-stay car parks will remain unchanged.
Meanwhile season tickets for long-stay car parks will increase from £51 to £55 a month, while those using Avenue de Chartres will be charged the equivalent of £47 a month up from £44.
For rural areas the cost of a season ticket are due to rise from £14 to £15 a month, and from £16.50 to £17.50 a month.
All pay stations across the district are planned to accept debit and credit cards as well as contactless payments next year, as they already do in the city.