ELDC is criticised over free parking row

The crowds always come out for Horncastle's Christmas Festival
The crowds always come out for Horncastle's Christmas Festival
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Horncastle Town councillors have accused East Lindsey District Council of “double standards” in a row over free car parking.

The Town Council backed calls for free parking throughout Horncastle on November 30 to coincide with the annual Christmas Festival.

The event attracts thousands of people and is seen as a major boost for businesses.

ELDC has scrapped charges at The Wong for the day - but not at other car parks which are closer to the town centre. However, ELDC has introduced free parking the following Saturday as part of a nationwide scheme to help businesses.

Town and district councillor Fiona Martin said it was “sad and disappointing” that ELDC had chosen not to support the Festival better. Coun Linda Barker described ELDC’s decision to allow free parking the following Saturday as “double standards.”

There have been claims increases in parking charges have damaged the town’s economy.

However, figures released by ELDC show that the number of vehicles using its car parks in the town has increased from 3,262 a week in 2012 to 6,042 this year. Coun Bill Aron said he had spoken to one business owner who had strongly refuted suggestions parking charges were damaging trade.

Coun Aron and Coun Martin also denied enforcement officers from ELDC and the County Council were specifically targeting Horncastle.

Coun Martin said fewer Enforcement Officers from ELDC were patrolling the town and the number of penalty tickets handed out had dropped. Coun Aron said Enforcement Officers were “trapped between a rock and a hard place.”

He added: “If they don’t do their job and the town snarls up then there are complaints.”

ELDC’s Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Coun Steve O’Dare, said: “The District Council is providing free parking in all car parks it controls across the District in support of Small Business Saturday on December 6. This is the first time that the council has supported this important national event.

“The Council has also agreed to provide some free parking in support of the Horncastle Christmas Festival on Sunday, November 30.”

“We hope that the Festival will be a success this year, as it has been in the past, and that Small Business Saturday will also provide a valuable extra boost to the economy of Horncastle and to all towns across the District.”