Call to reduce fees as car park use tumbles
Pleas have been made for car parking fees to be reduced in light of new figures which show a significant reduction in pay-and-display sales.
Figures obtained by the Lib Dem group on the district council show what they call a “shocking fall” in the number of vehicles using car parks.
A total of 102,361 fewer tickets were purchased in the 10-month period since the Tory-led council increase fees.
The Lib Dems are linking the lower numbers to the increased charges and senior councillor Sarah Hill (Lib Dem) last week said it was now time to make the charges cheaper.
The comparison is for the period for April 1, 2011, through to December 31, 2011, with the same period for 2012.
The introduction of the increased charges in April 2012 seems to have acted as the catalyst for fewer visitors to the district, claim the Lib Dems.
Lutterworth witnessed a reduced flow onto the car parks of more than 6,000 vehicles – 39,078 tickets in 2011 against 32,988 in the same period for 2012, but it was in Harborough the reduction was most drastic.
A total of 845,440 tickets were bought in the 10 months of 2011 compared with 749,169 for the comparable 10 months in 2012.
Added together, it is 102,361 fewer cars coming onto the car parks.
Cllr Phil Knowles, leader of the Lib Dem group on the council, said: “It’s not hard to speculate the impact that those reduced numbers could have had on the district’s economy.
“If each car, single or multiple-occupancy represented a possible spend of £10/£20 that means a loss to the traders of between £1m and £2m in just a 10-month period. There is no doubt about it – there are some very big questions that need to be answered.”
But council leader Michael Rook is standing firm against the accusations and blamed the downturn on roadworks and the general economic woes.
He said: “Nationally, there has been a fall in car park usage due to the economic downturn and a rise in petrol costs but despite this, business remains vibrant locally, shown by the small amount of vacant shops compared to other areas.
“Car parking charges in the district remain low compared to other areas. We also hope shoppers are choosing to walk into town to do their shopping, rather than use cars.”
The council will be adjusting its budgets to accommodate shortfalls in projected revenue and will prop it up through reserves or budget surpluses.
Cllr Rook also pointed out that council tax has been frozen again this year to minimise impacts on the taxpayer.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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