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Ex-councillor in plea to scrap Horncastle and Woodhall Spa parking fees

Car Parking debate

Car Parking debate

East Lindsey District Council is facing renewed calls to take decisive action and scrap controversial car park charges in Horncastle.

Former town councillor and local businessman Richard Barker is demanding free parking to stop the town from ‘dying.’

He spoke out after obtaining figures which show ELDC collected £155,000 from parking charges in Horncastle during 2013-14.

Across the district, the council took almost £3m from car parking in 2013-14, an increase of £300,000 on the previous 12 months.

The figures have been obtained by Mr Barker after he submitted a Freedom of Information request to ELDC.

Mr Barker accused ELDC of using car parks as a “cash cow” and said the cost to motorists was another form of taxation.

Mr Barker claimed that if ELDC introduced free parking, it could cover any loss in revenue by cutting ‘over-paid’ staff.

He stressed the authority was going against official Government policy which, he says, effectively bars council’s from using car parking to generate revenue.

Mr Barker: “I think people will be shocked and sickened by the amount of money ELDC is collecting from car park revenue.

“It (car parking) is a cash cow. It’s stealth tax - as if we aren’t already paying enough in council tax - and for what?”

The figures show ELDC collected £85,386 from The Bain, £48,933 from St Lawrence Street and £17,590 from the Market Place.

The Wong or Cattle Market car park, where charges were introduced last year, generated less than £3,500.

ELDC also owns two car parks in Woodhall Spa. Income from The Broadway was £3,093 and Royal Square £3,970.

Mr Barker also obtained figures which reveal that across the entire district, the council pays £31,471 per month for enforcement officers.

During 2013-14, penalty charges imposed at the six ELDC owned car parks in Horncastle and Woodhall Spa amounted to just under £6,000.

Mr Barker is one of several businessmen who claim parking charges are forcing customers away from Horncastle.

He added: “The town is dying. The sooner free parking is introduced the better. ELDC needs to sit down and have a sensible discussion.”

Mr Barker says the income from some car parks barely covered the cost of new machines.

ELDC launched a robust defence and said parking charges were among the cheapest in Lincolnshire.

A spokesman said the government policy Mr Barker was referring to relates to on-street parking - a county council matter.

He added: “We are aware that a number of businesses in the town are already exploring a proposal to introduce an incentivised parking scheme and this is something we’re discussing with the Horncastle branch of the Federation of Small Businesses.

“It’s untrue to suggest there isn’t free parking in Horncastle or Woodhall Spa - we provide two hours free parking on The Wong and the Broadway car park in Woodhall.”

THE FIGURES:

Revenue from car parks

Market Place

2011/12 - £15996.02

2012/12 - £16092.15

2013/14 - £17590.61

St Lawrence St

2011/12 - £44145.00

2012/12 - £44154.00

2013/14 - £48933.86

The Bain

2011/12 - £56746.20

2012/12 - £58527.03

2013/14 - £85386.47

The Wong/Cattle Market

2013/14 - £3477.04

Broadway

2013/14 - £3093.42

Royal Square

2013/14 - £3970.96

Total district revenue

2011/12 - £2620174.80

2012/13 - £2556211.31

2013/14 - £2842465.05

Cost per month for

Enforcement Officers

2011/12 - £28598.44

2012/13 - £28887.84

2013/14 - £31471.15

Number of penalty notices

Market Place

2012/12 - 12 - £225

2013/14 - 26 - £685

St Lawrence St

2012/12 - 18 - £435

2013/14 - 38 - £675

The Bain

2012/12 - 42 - £1000

2013/14 - 120 - £2825

The Wong/Cattle Market

2013/14 - 19 - £445

Broadway

2013/14 - 14 - £320

Royal Square

2013/14 - 35 - £940

 

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