Friday, 1 June 2018


When visiting the Town Centre I generally try to do my bit for the Borough's balance sheet by parking in one of the Council's car parks however I have to admit that yesterday I finally lost patience and used the multi storey at Victoria's.

I have commented previously on some strange strategies on town centre car parking but I can no longer bite my tongue on the issues of charge rates and pay on exit.

At the outset I fully acknowledge that for historical reasons the Borough is dependent on car parking income as an important element of its budget. However with the Town Centre struggling this has to be balanced against other issues.

To attract users car parks must be priced competitively and in my view pay on exit is essential to give the perception of value for money and also to ensure that visits are not capped by the need to return to the car. It is why in my 7 years as council leader we avoided increases in charges for 6 years and introduced pay on exit in Tyler's Avenue with a view to rolling it out elsewhere.

So what has happened. Pay on exit seems dead in the water. I know that for some reason certain council officers were not enthusiastic but that is why we have elected members.We also have the ridiculous policy that with certain town centre car parks you can pay for 2 or 4 hours but not 3.

Yesterday Mrs H and I were in town and knew we would need 2 and possibly 3 hours to do everything planned but not 4 hours. Paying a significant amount to pay for 4 hours did not appeal and accordingly we defected to Victoria's where the fees were less, it was pay on exit, and I ended paying for the slightly in excess of 3 hours that we required.

In my view the current approach to charging is not making use of the Council's car parks appealing or user friendly. It is part of the wider issue of the Town Centre on which I will be commenting further in due course but in the meantime it would be nice if the approach to car park charges could be rethought with a priority being the users.

In the meantime Victoria's I will be back!

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