ELDC car parking changes ‘do not go far enough’

Steve Newton - Car Parking in Horncastle
Steve Newton - Car Parking in Horncastle

Residents in Horncastle and Woodhall Spa have given the ‘thumbs down’ to new car parking arrangements announced by East Lindsey District Council and insist they do not go far enough.

The council came under fire last year after increasing charges at some of its car parks and introducing them at others.

Now, the council has performed something of a U-turn by increasing the free parking periods at car parks.

However, charges remain at the vast majority of car parks that were previously free - including The Wong in Horncastle, The Broadway and Royal Square in Woodhall Spa, Silver Street in Coningsby and Tattershall Market Place.

It is that policy which provoked the strongest protests last year with business owners and residents in all four communities claiming it had hit trade and forced visitors to other locations.

Paul Johnson, of North Street, Horncastle, said: “I don’t see how any extra hour free will make that much difference.

“Horncastle is a ghost town at the weekends now - and during the week - and I know people have been put off by the parking charges.

“We’ve got friends who shop in Market Rasen where they can park all day for free. Why can’t that happen in Horncastle?”

Stephen Collins was among the protesters against the initial decision to introduce charges in Woodhall Spa.

He added: “To my mind, the council has missed a great chance to get people back on their side.

“Making the car parks free for two hours might help some people - but not others.

“In the tourist season, we get people parking on the roadside all day, rather than paying to use the ELDC car parks.

“That’s just going to continue. I know ELDC is looking to save money but I’m sure when the elections come around, people will remember what has happened to car parking.”

The changes introduced last year were opposed by town and parish councils in the area.

It is almost certain the ELDC ‘rethink’ will figure high on the agendas of those bodies over the next couple of weeks.

Parish councillors in Woodhall Spa put together their own parking survey which called for a raft of changes. Very few of them have been implemented.

The decision to make changes was announced on Monday after a meeting of ELDC’s executive board.

They decided to implement all of the recommendations put forward by a cross-party Scrutiny Group.

The changes include:

n Two hours free parking in all car parks currently providing one hour free (The Wong, Tattershall Market Place, Silver Street Coningsby, The Broadway and Royal Square Woodhall Spa);

n On a Sunday, car parks with a maximum stay of one hour be increased to two hours (Market Place, Horncastle);

n A new parking permit scheme to support people working in East Lindsey;

n Improved signage in car parks, incorporating changes with particular attention to the free periods and permits);

n Improved parking provision for motor home owners who will now be able to purchase two tickets.

n The introduction of a ‘pay by phone; system in time for the start of the 2014 holiday season.

Councillor Steve Newton, whose portfolio at ELDC includes car parking, denied charges were excessive.

He said: “We thank the Scrutiny Group for their thorough and comprehensive review into the changes we made a year ago.

“While the Group recognised that parking charges in East Lindsey were not excessive, it did suggest that some adjustments to the current arrangements should be considered.

“These recommendations have all been approved and will insure we have an appropriate and balanced approach to parking across East Lindsey.”

A timeline for the implementation of the new arrangements will be developed following a statutory period of consultation.

The council points out that in many car parks, it costs £1.50 to park for up to four hours - and £3 for all day.

It also stresses the charge for a maximum stay of two hours on Sundays is £1 and 50p for up to an hour.

The council estimates the cost of implementing the changes will be around £18,800 a year. There will also be a one off additional charge of £8,500 for work to signage.

n Charges at other car parks in Horncastle, including St Lawrence Street and Tesco, will not be affected by the new policy changes.