A CAMPAIGN for free parking in Adur car parks has been slammed as ‘gross hypocrisy’.
Jemima Bland, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham, has written to Adur Council asking for two ‘happy hours’ in the district’s car parks.
She suggested the council should consider re-introducing a modified version of the parking disk system the council used to operate.
But Adur Council leader Neil Parkin said the request was ‘gross hypocrisy on the part of the Lib Dems’.
“In Worthing, they voted against reducing parking charges because it would affect council tax payers but in Adur, they want us to introduce two hours’ free parking.
“It’s just an election gimmick that doesn’t add up. They are saying one thing in Worthing and another in Adur.”
The ‘happy hours’ campaign has seen thousands of newsletters delivered across the district, calling for the change.
Ms Bland wants residents to get their first two hours’ parking free in all council-operated car parks, including Pond Road and Southwick Square.
She said: “When everybody is looking for ways to save money, it’s right that local people should have two happy hours when they don’t have to worry about paying to park.”
She said the council could afford to make the concession because in its 2012 financial year, it had made a surplus of £112,000 on car parking.
But Mr Parkin said this was not a ‘real life surplus’, it was money that was ploughed back into car parks, paying for resurfacing and maintenance.
He added: “In the old days, when we had the two hours’ free parking, the main thing was people abused it.
“Car parks were full up with the people working in the shops. It was being subsidised by the council tax payer with £250,000 a year.
“There are 65,000 people in Adur. If we say there are 10,000 cars, there isn’t enough room in our car parks to spend three hours a week in them.”
However, David Edey, chairman of Eastbrook Liberal Democrats, which covers Southwick and Fishersgate, supported the suggestion for Southwick Square.
He said: “When it’s time to do the main week’s shop, people need a car to get it home.”
Ms Bland said the move would help traders by encouraging more people to shop locally and also take some of the pressure off on-street parking.
Mr Parkin said the council had been looking at parking options for Shoreham for more than a year. In a deal negotiated with Morrisons, the 450-space car park at its new Brighton Road site will be free for three hours, to allow people to go into the town, which has made traders in Shoreham happy.