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Brighton and Hove businesses welcome parking charge U-turn
Parking tariffs are to be frozen and even reduced in the wake of public pressure to Park The Charges.
In a victory for people power, Brighton and Hove City Council has announced there will be no increases to the majority of its on and off-street parking rates from April.
In the face of mass criticism of last year’s rises, tariffs in the most controversial areas, such as the seafront and London Road, will be reduced.
But while businesses will gain from the relaxing of the rates, residents will be forced to pay more for permits to mitigate the cuts.
Businesses, residents and visitors have all claimed the Green administration’s decision to charge up to £20 a day has driven people away.
While partly blaming the wet weather and the economic situation, transport bosses now admit there has been a drop in parking numbers of up to 60% in some areas.
This has created a £200,000 black hole in the council’s budget.
However, officials have refused to revert back to 2011/12 prices claiming it would not meet their aim to reduce congestion and push people towards more sustainable forms of transport.
Ann Townsend, who has campaigned against the charges in London Road, said: “It has been a disaster.
“If the council has lost out on £200,000, how much has been lost to businesses?
“It is good to see public pressure has worked.”
Under proposals to be discussed by councillors next week, on street pay and display charges will be frozen in 2013/14 – a reduction in real terms when inflation is taken into account.
Prices will also be reduced in London Road and the seafront areas.
However, the cost of 22,500 resident parking permits will be increased to partly cover the concession.
Charges at Trafalgar Street and Regency Square car park, which will be renamed Brighton Centre, will be increased following worth more than £4 million of work.
Business and trader permits will be halved for low emission vehicles.
But appeals to reintroduce 30 minute tariffs and give free parking in Norton Road in Hove at weekends have been ignored for being too costly.
It marks a change of policy for the Green administration which raised city centre prices to £3.50 an hour and up to £20 a day on the seafront 12 months ago.
In a statement, transport committee chairman Ian Davey claimed the new plans were “positive”, adding: “These proposals help meet the needs of residents and tourists while maintaining vital work to tackle congestion and reduce air pollution in the city centre.
“These plans will also compliment our excellent public transport system that provides for residents and the growing number of visitors to the city.”
Max Leviston, of Madeira Drive Traders’ Association, said: “I’m certain it will help.
“£15 for a day is at the top end of parking charges, but when you look at NCP car parks both in the city and elsewhere I think they have got it right.”
Nick Head, of Brighton and Hove Hoteliers’ Association, said: “The news could be better but it is extremely welcome.
“We have all lost a lot of business due to the excessive charges.”
Conservative councillor Graham Cox said: “It would be churlish not to welcome this change of heart by the Greens.
“However, we feel that many charges are still too high.”
Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said: “The Greens’ parking strategy is clearly not working - they are not listening to residents or councillors who are calling for a more sensible fee structure. Their whole parking policy is in chaos.”
Planned Parking Charges
Madeira Drive and the seafront (summer)
One hour £3 (was £3.50)
Two hours £5 (was £6)
Eight hours scrapped (was £15)
11 hours £15 (was £20)
Summer season, which was April to September, now March to October (inclusive).
New Steine, Cheapside and The Level on-street
1 hour £2 (was £3.50)
2 hours £4 (was £6)
4 hours £6 (was £10)
Resident parking permits
1 year (full scheme) £120 (was £115)
1 year (light touch) £90 (was £80)
Full scheme (per permit) £2.60 (was £2.50)
Light touch (per permit) £1.60 (was £1.50)
One year £600 (no change)
3 months £160 (no change)
One year - low emission £300 (down from £600)
3 months - low emission £80 (down from £160)
One year £300 (no change)
3 months £85 (no change)
One year - low emission £150 (down from £300)
3 months - low emission £42.50 (down from £85)
When the new parking charges were introduced in April 2012, the Green-led city council believed they would reduce congestion and push people towards more sustainable forms of transport.
They would also raise an additional £1.3 million towards its budget.
Has it been a success?
Overall, the local authority says there have been 3% fewer transactions than planned for, resulting in a £200,000 budget black hole.
Official figures produced show that every month from April to October saw a reduction in paid-for hours across the city.
April saw the biggest drop – a reduction from 815,000 hours in 2011 to 672,000 in 2012.
Only August had comparable numbers, with use reducing from 852,000 to 851,000.
In addition, the local authority said parking transactions in Madeira Drive, where parking costs up to £20 a day during the summer, have reduced by 22%.
In the same period, visits to London Road decreased by 10% yet stays in its off-street car park, where favourable rates are offered, increased by 20%.
In comparison, there was a 5% increase in journeys on Brighton and Hove buses in the last year.
The council also claims trips made on foot and by bike are also generally increasing although there are no official figures to support this.
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