Sunday parking charges for Horsham town centre’s car parks were agreed by the council’s cabinet last night (Thursday January 28).
The £1.50 flat fee on Sundays and bank holidays is set to be introduced in April could raise an extra £140,000 a year as Horsham District Council looks to mitigate the impact of a decline in central Government funding.
But when proposals were announced before Christmas they were overwhelmingly opposed by readers, with one branding the idea ‘absolute madness’, and a petition was also launched against the new charges.
Brian Donnelly (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham), cabinet member for finance and assets, explained that the multi-storey car parks were expensive to maintain, and that Horsham was an ‘excellent destination of choice’ for shoppers and visitors.
He said: “Our philosophy is the user pays. If we have a lot of people using the multi-storeys it’s only correct the user pays.”
He understood traders’ objections, but questioned fears over the charges’ impact on parking in residential areas, as they had looked into the topic when evening parking charges were introduced, and said that ‘no evidence other than generalisations’ was being offered.
He added: “We are quite unique, as very few councils have no charging on Sundays whatsoever.”
Peter Burgess (Con, Holbrook West) called the charges a ‘no-brainer’ and said that most people coming expected to pay on Sundays, while Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry), leader of the council, added: “£1.50 is a trivial amount of money to individuals but is very important to the council.”
Matthew French (Con, Broadbridge Heath) said: “I’m one of the ones who thinks we should have the same charge throughout the week. Sundays should not be different.”
Parking charges for the rest of the week have been frozen for the last three years.
But Philip Circus (Con, Chanctonbury), cabinet member for housing and public protection, suggested that like the green waste charge, there could be pressure to increase Sunday charges substantially in the future once they were introduced.
The impact on churchgoers was raised by David Skipp (LDem, Horsham Park), leader of the Lib Dem group, and he called for any money raised to be spent on improving the town centre.
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