Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Truth behind the car parking campaign.

On the New and Crier website I see a piece on car parking. The Conservative run HDC is looking to introduce charges on all Council Car Parks in St Neots. This is being vigorously opposed by the Liberal Democrats who have got up a petition against this proposal. The News and Crier is running a campaign against this proposal. The Liberal Democrat statement on this campaign is here. In the News and Crier the St Neots Town Mayor is quoted as saying:

Mayor Gordon Thorpe said: "We have already been advised there has been a 6 per cent downturn in footfall and charging for parking will only increase that downward trend, as people will be unwilling to pay when, for the same price, they could go to Bedford, Cambridge or Peterborough."

Eh!...For the same price? I've been to all three towns and have to pay parking charges. So I looked up the charges applied in Huntingdon and car parking charges for these Towns/Cities quoted by Cllr Thorpe. As there are different charging policies in each Council I have have worked out what it would cost to park for 1 hour/ 2 hour and all day on weekdays.

Town Car Parks 1 hour 2 hours All Day
Huntingdonshire Long Stay £0.20/£0.50 £0.40/£1.00 £1.50/£2.00
Huntingdonshire Short Stay £0.50 £1.00 ----
Bedford BC Long Stay £.0.70/£1.10 £1.00/£1.70 £3.30/£7.00
Bedford BC Short Stay £0.90/£1.40 £0.90/£1.40
Cambridge City £1.00/£1.80 £2.00/£3.60 £8.00/£21.00
Peterborough Short Stay £1.00 £2.00 -----
Peterborough Long Stay £1.00 £2.00 £5.00

All I found was one car park in Bedford that charged less than car parks in Huntingdon. That was the Melbourn Car Park which charged 90p compared to £1. But this car park is roughly 600 metres away from Bedford Town Centre. This is comparable to Riverside CP, Huntingdon which is 40p.

I can find no evidence that introducing car parking charges at the Riverside Car will mean people will go to any of these three named towns as it would cost them more!!!

Quoting from the Liberal Democrat website:
Councillor Steve van der Kerkhove adds, "The surprise is how many of the users of the Riverside Car Park are from out of area. We have had people signing from Rushden, Higham Ferrars and Biggleswade as well as more local villages."

So once again the hard pressed council taxpayer is subsidising residents of Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire before St Neots residents.

There also seems to be a bit on the use of the Riverside Car Park as a recreational car park! Car parking is free on Sundays and evenings. So what is wrong with charging in this car park during the daytime Monday - Saturday? When I go and walk around the Riverside area I walk there. If I go up to Grafham Water I get charged £2 - £3 for  a day for parking.

The Riverside Car Park is not free. The costs are paid for out of Council Tax.

Waitrose in St Neots and Sainbury's in Huntingdon both operate a scheme whereby they pay for customers car parking up to a point. If businesses are so concerned that the introduction of CP charges will cut their footfall, the alternative is they set up a similar scheme for St Neots shopping area as a whole.

Another alternative is for Hunts DC to off load the car parks, parks and toilets onto the Town Council. But that won't happen.

I feel the Council Taxpayer should not be paying for car parks and these should be paid by the user. I feel these campaigns are wrong. The Liberal Democrats are quite rightly are wanting others to pay for a Church Car Park. Where they are going wrong is they are campaigning on supposition rather than hard evidence.

Website links to other Council car park charges.
Huntingdonshire DC Car Parks
Bedford Borough Car Parks
     Car Park Charges
Cambridge City Car Parks
Peterborough City Car Parks
     Long Stay
     Short Stay

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