WORTHING Borough Council is to borrow £1.5million to refurbish a town centre car park.

The plans for the Buckingham Road multi-storey are part of a redevelopment and refurbishment project involving several of the town’s rather outdated car parks.

With questions being asked about the funding of the project and the cost to the taxpayer, it was explained that the debt would be covered by income from the car parks.

At Worthing Borough Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday (December 12), Kevin Jenkins (Con, Gaisford), executive member for regeneration, said: “Let me make this clear: the income generated by the car parks produces a surplus.

“The money paid by taxpayers or by car park users will be reinvested in the car parks.

“The core taxpayers are not paying for it.

“It is the users of the car park having their money reinvested in it, which is right and proper.”

The Buckingham Road refurbishment will cost £1,533,000 and will be included in the council’s 2019/20 capital programme.

The project will also see the Grafton multi-storey demolished, with members told it would cost around £10.2million to keep it open – and then only for five to ten years.

Instead, the plan is to redevelop the site to include homes, shops and restaurants ‘with the aim of increasing the town’s evening economy’.

Other work will see the High Street multi-storey refurbished, and more parking spaces in the town hall and Lyndhurst Road car parks.

Some £2.7million for urgent repairs has already been included in the capital programme, with the council spending more than £101,000 each year on car park maintenance.

But even that much money would not be enough to improve the quality or increase the number of parking spaces.

The need to give a better first impression of the town to visitors was high priority to some councillors.

Edward Crouch (Con, Marine) said: “Our car parks are often the first experience and the last experience people have of our great town.

“If those car parks look or smell like [lavatories], they are not going to have a particularly sweet-smelling vision of Worthing.”

Mr Jenkins said the car parks were part of the council’s ‘green agenda’, adding: “This isn’t just about throwing a coat of paint; it’s that first arrival and departure point.

“It’s also about making sure our green credentials are there.

“It’s around putting electric charging vehicle points in – ticking the boxes that we need to do but making sure they’re in the right place for people to be able to access them as they come into the town.

“It’s also about making sure that people can choose sustainable alternative means of transport, by ensuring that we provide secure parking for cycles in those car parks.”