Council slams parking hike

Billingshurst High Street. Pic Steve Robards  SR1702122 SUS-170702-151602001
Billingshurst High Street. Pic Steve Robards SR1702122 SUS-170702-151602001

A parish council has slammed plans to change car park charges in Billingshurst which could stop people from visiting the village.

Billingshurst Parish Council has expressed its disappointment at proposals to introduce new charges at rural car parks across the district.

The plans were announced by Horsham District Council in November last year. They would see new £12-a-year charges for short stays introduced, along with pay and display machines and £130-a-year season tickets.

The changes would replace different terms and conditions in village car parks where currently some are free and unlimited and others use discs and vouchers for stays of up to a certain number of hours.

Residents in Steyning have already expressed their anger over the proposals, with hundreds of people taking to the streets in protest.

Billingshurst Parish Council said the decision had been met with concern by many in the village.

“It is disappointing that HDC have forged ahead with the increases and changes in parking charges in Billingshurst without proper consultation and seemingly ignoring the concerns raised by Billingshurst Parish Council and local businesses and residents,” a spokesman said.

“The Parish Council was keen to point out to HDC that its plans to increase charges contradicted the Supplementary Planning Document for the High Street and Jengers Mead area, which HDC were involved in setting up.

“The SPD has a central theme of seeking to attract people to the village centre, whereas increasing parking charges could have the opposite effect.”

Concerns were also raised about card-only ticket machines, online voucher renewal and paying by mobile phone which could ‘discriminate against some user groups’ as well as worries ‘illegal and dangerous parking’ elsewhere in the village could increase.

HDC approached the council in September last year about leasing the car parks.

“The Parish Council was promised figures outlining the likely costs of such an agreement in order to fully consider this option; sadly these figures have never been forthcoming,” the spokesman added.

“The Parish Council also felt that while managing their car parks, HDC has maintenance and legal departments etc. and has Parking Wardens to police them; Parish Councils do not have such facilities.”

The council added that leasing the car parks may have meant a high increase in the parish precept.

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