Free parking? You can decide

Parking machine PNL-140423-134522001
Parking machine PNL-140423-134522001

Town and parish councils across East Lindsey will have the final say on whether they want free car parking to be re-introduced in their community.

East Lindsey District Council is considering a U-turn on a controversial decision made two years ago to charge fees at previously free car parks.

That decision included The Wong in Horncastle, Royal Square and The Broadway in Woodhall Spa, Silver Street in Coningsby and The Market Place in Woodhall Spa.

A total of 13 car parks across the district could be affected by the changes.

However, ELDC leader Craig Leyland has revealed it is not certain whether communities would welcome a return to free parking.

ELDC will debate the issue in December and Coun Leyland said that provided the changes were agreed in principal, a final decision would then be made by individual town and parish councils.

Coun Leyland also revealed that the current parking machines - which require people to key in their car registration details - would be phased out.

Coun Leyland, speaking at a meeting of Horncastle Town Council, said it was impossible to provide ‘unilateral charges’ across the entire district.

He also warned that while ELDC was keen to support any changes, the authority did rely on car park revenue to meet increasingly difficult financial obligations.

Coun Leyland said: “A scrutiny panel has recommended free parking be re-introduced at previously free car parks.

“However, it is by no means certain that all communities would welcome that.

“It is important that those communities have a say and that town and parish councils can decide.

“It is part of the on-going devolution process in local government.”

Coun Leyland represents Woodhall Spa and said he was aware of opposition to free parking - and in places like Burgh le Marsh.

He explained that before the introduction of charges in Woodhall, all day parking places were taken up by shop owners, workers and people who ‘caught the bus to Lincoln’.

He said that had led to a shortage of places for visitors and for people wanting to use local shops.

Horncastle’s Mayor Coun Angela Birchall asked whether ELDC would consider introducing up to 30 minutes’ free parking in Horncastle town centre.

She said it would help boost local businesses.

However, Coun Leyland said ELDC needed parking revenue to ‘help balance the books’ and could not afford to lose any income streams, particularly at a time of on-going cuts in Government funding.