CAR parking fees are to rise again throughout Christchurch despite concerns at some of the new prices.
Councillors on the resources committee at Christchurch council unanimously approved the increases to car parks across the borough at a committee meeting on Wednesday.
In the town centre, parking fees for one hour will stay the same at 80p but for a two-hour stay will increase from £1.40 to £1.60 from April this year.
The rise sparked concerns from Christchurch Chamber of Trade and Commerce who urged the council to rethink the shoppers’ car parks strategy.
In a letter to senior engineer Andy Cadle, Terry Atkinson, general secretary of the Chamber of Trade said: “You will have seen from the Mary Portas Review that the perception of having to pay to park to go shopping is a significant negative influence on people, but the resolution is necessarily complicated.
“Here in Christchurch, there is a growing opinion that we should do all we can to encourage visitors to “dwell” for longer.
“As more and more “shoppers” partake of the increasing number of restaurants and cafes as well as doing some shopping, it is clear that one hour is not long enough and that we need to make the two hour stay more attractive.
“Obviously you have the usage figures and no doubt you will have increased the popular two-hour rate to maximise revenue.
“Increasing the two-hour charge is not, we believe, in any of our interests in the longer term.”
Mr Atkinson requested that the council “crunch the numbers” again and consider freezing the two-hour rate at the bypass car park and Wick Lane.
However, he did express the chamber’s gratitude at the freeze on the one-hour rate for shoppers’ car parks.
But despite these concerns, as well as a letter from Highcliffe Residents Association regarding the charges at Wortley Road in Highcliffe, councillors voted to increase parking charges.
Cllr Trish Jamieson, who seconded the motion said: “We have only had six responses so people aren’t really up in arms.”
But independent councillor Colin Bungey warned: “I know the Chamber of Trade has concerns and we have to be careful how far we push this.”