Conservative councilors are calling on municipal leaders in Stroud to reconsider plans to increase parking fees. The Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat led administration of Stroud District Council (SDC) is proposing several increases as part of the budget proposals for the new financial year.
One-hour rates are expected to rise by 10p (12.5%) at four of Stroud’s six car parks, and three-hour rates are expected to rise by 20p (11.1%). The board says that means modifying charges for a total of eight delays and freezing 19 charges.
They say that using the global rate structure, the increase is just over 3%. But opposition group leader Stephen Davies (Con, Severn) called on council leaders to reconsider given that many people are already feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis.
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“I am extremely concerned that you have taken the decision to dramatically increase parking prices in Stroud District Council car parks by 12.5% or 10p in the first hour,” he said. he stated in a letter to the other group leaders.
“When you tried to add parking fees to our free car parks in 2018/19, it became very clear that parking fees are a trade barrier for our street businesses. This was even before our retailers do not suffer the economic shock of the foreclosure closures.
“Your plans also come at a time when beleaguered families are already feeling the impact of many rising costs due to the global pandemic. We should encourage people in our cities to spend locally and away from online services, not discourage them by increasing parking fees.
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“I have been informed that part of your decision is to penalize the use of cars in the interest of saving the environment. As you know, however, in a predominantly rural district, the majority of our residents are vehicle dependent and will be for many years to come.
“Furthermore, Stroud District Council should honor its own environmental initiatives before penalizing residents. We are still waiting for you to increase the number of electric charging stations in the municipality’s car parks in accordance with the motion passed two years ago.
“In the 2021 local elections, the Tories made it clear that if we were in charge of council we would introduce a free parking period. As this was a fully costed proposal, we know the council can afford not to implement an above inflation parking increase, and that is also not cost effective.
“It is imperative that Stroud District Council work harder to be business-friendly and aware of the unintended consequences of your decisions.”
But alliance leaders say they are surprised by the open letter which they say is intended to mislead and alarm the public. Councilors Doina Cornell (Lab, Dursley) Catherine Braun (Green, Wotton-under-Edge) and Ken Tucker (Lib Dem, Wotton-under-Edge) released a joint statement and explained that the hourly rate has not changed at over the past five years. .
“In the six SDC chargeable car parks, the proposed change now is just over 3% in total. The proposal is to freeze charges in the six Stroud car parks for two-hour stays or any four-hour stay and more. ,” they said.
“No increases are offered in Church Street and Rowcroft. DDC’s increases are also in line with inflation. And Cllr Stephen Davies voted for those increases in the budget strategy last year.
“They are exactly the same as those proposed for Gloucestershire County Council’s budget meeting next week, and Cllr Davies is a cabinet member so is likely to be supporting his own budget and not launching a petition against it.
“The revenue generated supports a range of areas, for example the maintenance of Stratford Park, car park maintenance and management and town center improvements.
“The council’s new plan prioritises the environment and climate change and, within this, mobility and transport, as well as economy, recovery and regeneration – we are proposing this week a budget that is committed to supporting the local economy, our towns and shopping streets, and sustainable transport for all.
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