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Christchurch traders' anger at rejection of parking scheme
CHRISTCHURCH council has been accused of “sucking the life” from the town following their decision to reject Chamber of Trade parking proposals.
At a meeting of the resources committee on Wednesday councillors refused to adopt the Chamber’s “£1 for two hours” parking scheme, despite a wealth of local support.
Members felt the time wasn’t right for such a scheme despite 5,500-people signing a petition supporting the campaign.
Ashley Harman, property and engineering services manager said if the council were to adopt the Chamber of Trade’s scheme, it would result in people paying more for their parking as the 80 pence option would be removed.
But Cllr Colin Bungey said: “An awful lot of people that want 80p worth of parking pay £1 anyway because our machines do not give change.
“The number of people that give £1 is substantial I would imagine.
“I remember years ago we kept saying we would reach a stage on car parking that we would kill the golden goose.
“If we put in change giving machines maybe things would be different. I feel it would make a huge difference in income.”
Despite day time parking charges not being raised, councillors did choose to introduce a contentious night-time fee in the town centre, something which raised concern from the Regent Centre and ACRA – the Alliance of Christchurch Residents Associations.
It is estimated overnight charging from 7pm to 8am will raise £53,000.
Cllr Mike Duckworth said the overnight parking would be reviewed at the end of 12 months.
He said to introduce the Chamber’s scheme, would mean other tariffs would have to be changed and that would mean a long consultation period.
“I do not believe we could afford to take any risks with our income stream”, he said.
“The council income is very fragile in the current economic climate.
“But we will continue to work with the Chamber of Trade and may revisit this in future.”
Chamber of Commerce reaction
Peter Watson-Lee, president of Christchurch Chamber of Trade said: “Christchurch businesses have been working hard to keep the town vibrant and indeed we have recently seen some lovely new shops open.
“Accordingly it is immensely dispiriting to the town that rather than support them, their own council seems determined to suck the life out of the town by maintaining an off putting and unwelcoming parking fee regime.
“Their refusal to implement “£1 for two hour parking” is a scathing rebuff to the Christchurch business community.
“The Christchurch Chamber of Trade had worked hard in trying to convince the council of the great benefits this could bring to the town.
“To heap insult onto injury, the council’s greedy implementation of parking charges in the evening will directly dampen one of Christchurch’s great successes, which has been the development of a pleasant and attractive evening economy with its eateries and wine bars. Again, rather than celebrate this, the council view it merely as a money making opportunity.”