A long overdue review of car parking charges across Horsham district’s rural areas will be undertaken by the council by May 2015.
Horsham District Council also agreed to raise charges to the town centre car parks with some fees increasing by around 20 per cent in March 2013.
While comments from readers on the County Times’ Facebook page showed dismay at another price hike, almost a year after similar increases, Roger Paterson (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham), cabinet member for the local economy, said that the new prices would still be less expensive than Horsham’s peer towns.
He said prices were still fully competitive and protected the local economy.
“We will be using new technology to boost the town economy in a variety of ways,” he added.
“It’s only fair I think, users should pay for these improvements.”
Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest) tabled a motion to make the review a recommendation rather than a proposal, and was seconded by Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper and Colgate).
She said that people in her ward felt anomalies in the current arrangements were grossly unfair and she would like to see them put right.
Mr Newman originally called for the review to happen in 2013/2014, but Mr Paterson said it would not be achievable with the number of projects scheduled for that year.
Members from both sides agreed that a review of rural charges was long overdue.
An amendment by David Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park) to defer charging from 6pm-8pm at Denne Road, Piries Place, and North Street was less successful, with Jim Rae (Con, Holbrook East) accusing him of trying to gain political capital from the issue.
Mr Holmes felt that rather than using car parks during these times, drivers would park on single yellow lines in the Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ), meaning residents would not be able to park near their homes.
Mr Paterson answered that there was no evidence that charging during the evening in Hurst Road had forced people to park on the street instead.
Mr Holmes also added: “Are the car parks just being used as cash cows, as a way of getting more money out of people’s pockets while taking the credit for not increasing the council tax?”
Mr Rae said that increasing parking charges was one of several measures as HDC attempted to balance the books.