LETTER: ELDC’s parking police benefit nobody - now the figures prove it

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The figures supplied by East Lindsey District Council, in accordance with the request under the Freedom of Information Act in relation to car parking in Horncastle, confirm ELDC’s new parking police in three of the car parks provides no benefit to themselves or Horncastle and in all four is certainly detrimental to the town.

The Wong (Cattle Market) car park over the year 2013-14 (the first year charges and enforcement were introduced) grossed £3,447 in charges and £445 from enforcement penalties. This is an average of £11 a day.

Without any doubt, the expense to ELDC for machine installation and maintenance, together with enforcement costs, means Horncastle lost a free car park and ELDC gained nothing.

Based on an average cost of £550 per month per car park throughout the district for enforcement, ELDC and the Council Tax payer paid £6,600 to incur a significant loss.

The Market Place car park recorded approximately a 10 per cent increase in revenue over the previous year after the increase in charges and a 200 per cent increase in penalty charges due to increased enforcement (Sunday and Bank Holiday parking charges and disabled visitors from other towns outside the district are two examples of motorists caught out by ELDC’s new policy.)

St Lawrence Street car park recorded a 10 per cent increase in revenue and a 50 per cent increase in penalty charges for the year 2013-14.

The total increase in revenue from these two car parks after the introduction of the new parking policy was £6,374 and the increase in penalty charges £700.

Again, taking into account the cost of enforcement, ELDC have failed to make any extra money from their new parking policy in these car parks and have only succeeded in destroying the economic viability of the town by discouraging motorists.

The only car park in Horncastle to show an increase in revenue for ELDC is the Tesco (Bain) car park where shoppers allegedly redeem the £1 parking fee when spending over £3 in the store.

The increase of approximately 45 per cent in revenue is, without doubt, due to more Tesco customers paying the fee rather than risking the increased likelihood of a penalty notice.

Tesco return the £1 to the customer and ELDC receive the parking fee.

Tesco are unwilling to confirm how many tickets they redeem but the statistics indicate that it may be in the region of 235 a day. If this is the case, it confirms Tesco collected the majority of the income (£85,386) that ELDC received in the year 2013-14 from the Tesco car park.

Tesco is allegedly responsible for the financial burden of this arrangement with ELDC but customers could suspect some of the £83,386 ELDC received from this car park might in fact have been recovered by the store from the shoppers at the check-out.

Shopping at the largest supermarket in Horncastle requires obtaining a refundable parking ticket; however, it is possible the refund could be no more than an empty gesture and in fact the parking fee might be hidden within the supermarkets’ ever changing price strategy.

It is also possible that this lucrative stream of income for ELDC, which has little or no benefit for other businesses in the town, is an explanation why supermarket retailers experience difficulties when applying for other sites in Horncastle - where parking would be free.

The statistics show, beyond any doubt, why some shops in Horncastle are now suffering economic decline.

Where do visitors park to browse the shops or sit in a cafe?

Motorists have proved they do not want to park and risk a penalty in an ELDC car park and Lincolnshire County Council have, with their new enforcement policy, created a hostile situation which has discouraged motorists parking in the one hours bays in the town.

Richard Ingram-Hill

Horncastle