New charges in South Downs rural car parks are ‘cheaper than chips’, the council’s leader has said.
Horsham District Council is proposing to introduce new charges including £12 a year discs for short stays, pay and display machines, and £130 a year season tickets from Monday to Saturday as it looks to cover the £315,000 annual cost of running the car parks.
More than 800 people have signed a petition opposing the changes, but HDC’s cabinet agreed to implement them from April 2017 at a meeting last Thursday (November 24).
Cabinet members argued that the £12 a year discs worked out at around 25p a week, while pay and display machines would charge users 75p for up to an hour’s stay.
Jonathan Chowen (Con, Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead), HDC’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, said the current arrangements were a ‘hotchpotch’, while there was no investment or enforcement because the car parks were not generating an income stream.
He added: “It’s as cheap as chips and that’s the real deal for everybody.”
Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry), leader of the council, replied: “I do not think you will get many chips for 25p.
“It’s 25p a week, that is the amount of money we are talking about to bring these measures in. It’s incredibly cheap.”
He added: “I think it’s cheaper than chips actually.”
Gordon Lindsay (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley), cabinet member for the local economy, said: “The costs and price of this daily is a very small amount of money.”
Mike Morgan (Ind, Henfield) felt it was important they had standardised charges if the proposals went ahead, as if Steyning had free parking shoppers might go there instead of Henfield.
Michael Willett (Con, Steyning) said he was against Steyning Parish Council taking on responsibility for car parks in the town and putting the money on to the parish precept to maintain free parking.
He explained: “I do not think the big spenders who will save the high street from its demise will jib at 75p but the people that run the businesses there are fighting tooth and nail not to pay 75p.
“I’m trying to stop Steyning from making a stupid mistake by putting £19,000 on the precept.”
He added: “It’s not the issue of 75p. The shop-holders of Steyning think it will be the last straw but I do not think it is.”
Mr Lindsay replied: “We can’t allow a group of people to ruin it for everybody else. We can’t allow a group of people to do their own thing and crucify Henfield.”
It was agreed to exclude Bramber, Upper Beeding and Cowfold from the arrangements because these car parks are much smaller.
The new charges have been agreed by both West Sussex County Council’s Chanctonbury and North Horsham County Local Committees, with 21 days of consultation.
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