17:05 Friday 11 January 2013

Fight against bid to axe 30-minute parking rates

Written byJOSHUA TAYLOR

EAST Staffordshire Borough Council is taking a ‘huge gamble’ by abolishing 30-minute rates in Burton town centre’s car parks, it has been claimed.

Julian Mott (pictured below), the council’s Labour opposition leader, said axing the 50p 30-minute rate risked deterring visitors from the town who would not want to pay for a full one-hour ticket instead.

“This is a huge gamble as far as the economy of the town centre is concerned,” he said.

Labour councillors have ‘called in’ the decision, made last month by the council’s Conservative leaders, meaning it has to be discussed again at a Burton Town Hall meeting on Monday night.

Under the Conservative plans, the 30-minute rate of 50p would be scrapped, but the one-hour charge would be cut from its current £1.40 to £1.

“They (the Tories) are hoping the people who currently pay 50p for half an hour will pay £1 instead,” Councillor Mott said. “But people may not be willing to do that.

“I am calling for the council to retain the half-an-hour charge as we sell about 100,000 a year. Getting rid of it would affect a lot of people in the town centre.”

Councillor Mott also said scrapping 30-minute bays would encourage more on-street parking by those not willing to buy one-hour tickets.

“We accept some parking charge increases are needed,” he said. “The rates we currently charge were set five years ago, but I want to see the half-hour rates retained.”

The Conservative leaders of the council, however, point to a public consultation carried out last year to support their stance.

The questionnaire was answered by 318 people, 45 per cent of whom said they favoured the £1 tariff. The changes will net the council an extra £204,000 a year if they come into force next financial year.

Conservative Bernard Peters previously said the authority had ‘listened quite clearly to what people have said’.

Meanwhile Robert Hardwick, deputy leader for regulatory services, said: “This is a wholly responsible way to manage our town centres.”

A council spokesman declined to make any further comment ahead of Monday’s meeting.

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