Car park charges rise to go ahead
AN attempt to overturn a proposed increase in car park charges has been rejected. In spite of passionate pleading from Royston councillors the rises look set to remain. But there were protests that increases would see the decline of Royston town centre. T
AN attempt to overturn a proposed increase in car park charges has been rejected.
In spite of passionate pleading from Royston councillors the rises look set to remain.
But there were protests that increases would see the decline of Royston town centre.
The suggestion to re-examine the car park charges proposals was turned down after an hour-long debate at North Herts District Council's scrutiny committee on Monday evening.
The committee decided that the council had gone through the proper procedure over the proposals, and therefore Royston did not have a case for re-opening the issue.
Cllr Richard Thake, the council's Cabinet transport portfolio holder, told the meeting: "There has never been any doubt about the position in Royston. It was made absolutely plain."
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But he said car park charges in Royston had not increased for five years, which meant that people had virtually been "enjoying" decreasing charges.
He said: "There is no proven link between the loss of trading and parking charges. It is not the case, and members from Royston are labouring under a misapprehension."
Cllr Thake said the council had supported a budget which called for an increase of £62,000 in car park charges in Royston.
The new charges were supposed to be implemented in April, but have been on hold, costing the district council £2,000-a-week in income.
Increases will be made in all car parks in Royston, but the reduced charge of 10p after 4pm will be retained.
Three members of the Royston area committee - Cllr Fiona Hill, Cllr Tony Hunter and Cllr Peter Burt - had attempted to persuade the committee to re-think the position.
They had originally been angered because each believed the council's cabinet had not taken into consideration Royston as a "special case" when deciding on car park charges.
Cllr Hill told the scrutiny committee that Royston councillors had previously left a meeting of the decision-making cabinet believing that the points raised would be considered and changes would be made to the proposals concerning Royston.
They learned, however, through a report in an internal members' information bulletin that the original increase structure was to remain.
Cllr Hill said they were "appalled" by the decision after members believed that their views "had been taken seriously".
Cllr Hunter claimed that traders in the town centre were seeing a drop in takings year-on-year, and an increase in car parking charges would see the town centre "diminish to where it will be non-existent".
Cllr Peter Burt said the increase in parking charges was "an emotive subject".
"We are willing to accept there has to be an increase - that is a fact of life," said Cllr Burt.
"It's all about where that increase takes place."
And town centre manager Geraint Burnell told the meeting: "There is real pain in retailing in Royston, and not to be over-dramatic, retailers will be closing."
- Veteran campaigner Terry Hutt has collected more than 700 signatures on a petition protesting against an increase in car park charges in Royston.
CAR PARK FACTS
- Tickets 2004/5: 441,461
- Income: £192,899
- Estimated Tickets 2006/7: 441,461
- Estimated income: £262,771
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