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Gloucestershire Business News

Shock for drivers as parking charges soar - NEW COMMENTS

County motorists are facing a big rise in car parking charges from March 1.

The increases in Cheltenham Borough Council car parks are the first in eight years.

But that will be cold comfort for motorists. For instance, charges in High Street and Sherborne Street car park will soar from £5.50p to £8 for those staying over four hours.

In Bath Parade charges will increase from £10 to £12 for the same time. Not all the increases are so high but for drivers who regularly visit the town it will soon add up.

The borough council has defended the widespread increases, saying it will make capital investment in its car parks, including the phased upgrading of parking machines to take card payments, including contactless, improved lighting, resurfacing and other environmental works.

Mike Redman, the council's director of environment said: "In June 2017, the council's Cabinet approved the parking strategy, which was endorsed by a cross-party working group, including the principle of some changes to parking charges based on the location of each car park.

"In certain cases, changes to the duration of parking periods have also been made to help manage congestion.

"Essentially, we are aiming to balance the cost and convenience of car travel against other more sustainable modes of travel, such as public transport, walking and cycling, whilst trying to create a higher turnover of parking spaces for visitors and those accessing local services closer to the town centre."

He added: "Results from a survey carrried out for the authority indicated that residents and visitors generally felt that having a good availability of parking spaces and payment options was more important to them than the level of charges when planning their visit."

The new charges will not apply immediately in Regent Arcade, which will be brought in when the new parking system goes live later in the year.

Cllr Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: "Parking charges are always an emotive issue and increases will never be popular, however this is the first review for 8 years and the council has looked to ensure that charges are in line with other towns regionally, with a similar offer to Cheltenham.

"All income brought in from parking charges in Cheltenham is ploughed back into local services, including car parking and parks and gardens maintenance, helping to ensure the quality of the town's offer to visitors and residents alike.

"The council is committing to invest £400,000 into improving the town centre car parks.

"In some cases, charges are being held at the same level or are even reducing, so if cost is an issue it may pay customers to consider alternative parking locations."

Director of Cheltenham BID (Business Improvement District) Kevan Blackadder said: "There will be concerns that it is a badly timed increase because we need to be doing all we can to attract people to town centres.

"But while some of the long-stay charges are increasing significantly in percentage terms, many of the short-stay charges have been frozen or are only increasing by a small amount in most cases.

"The council is stressing the fact that it is the first time in eight years that they have reviewed the charges and I would certainly urge them to avoid any further increases in coming years.

"Cheltenham's prices compare favourably to many other centres - a businessman who has recently started working in the town told me today that he was being charged £31 a day in central Oxford - and we need to ensure it stays that way."

For full details of all the new parking charges go to: www.cheltenham.gov.uk/news/article/2054/new_charges_for_cheltenham_borough_council_car_parks 

What do you think? Email mark@moosemarketingandpr.co.uk 

Readers' comments:

Ian Heather, director, HRML HR and Employment Law: They will kill the town very successfully.

Tony Mitchell, Cranfield Business Recovery: The council seems to be on a mission to drive workers and visitors out of the town. Drivers have to navigate third world road surfaces to get to a car park and when they get there, they are confronted by a highwayman disguised as a parking meter to park their car. It's a disgrace and the council members should be ashamed at their inability to govern.

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