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Row over Waveney car parking charges

PUBLISHED: 06:14 04 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:21 05 July 2010

Proposals to increase car park charges across Waveney have sparked a row, with fears the hike will discourage people from visiting the district's towns.

Proposals to increase car park charges across Waveney have sparked a row, with fears the hike will discourage people from visiting the district's towns.

The fees are set to generally rise by 10p an hour during the next year and, while the ruling Tory group at Waveney District Council says the car parks still offer value for money, opposition politicians have hit out.

Andrew Shepherd, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “We have car parks in Lowestoft that remain empty the majority of the time. Some of these increases are horrendous. If we want to regenerate the town centre and want people to visit, then we've got to encourage them to do it. High car parking charges are not the way to do it. We've got too many shops in the town centre standing empty and we need to encourage people from outside to come in.”

Labour group leader Malcolm Cherry added: “Naturally we don't want to encourage everybody to come into Lowestoft and Waveney in their cars and to use public transport where possible… but with unemployment going up, people may feel once again that they are being hit hard in the pocket.

“If we set too high an increase, we will end up emptying our car parks rather than trying to fill them up.”

The council's cabinet voted in favour of the 2009-10 increases at a meeting last week, in a bid to make up a shortfall in the previous year's parking budget.

Cabinet member Chris Punt, whose portfolio includes finance, said the income was needed to ensure the car parks could be maintained.

He added: “Our car park charges have not secured the income we have expected. At the end of the day, we need to produce a balanced budget.”

Colleague Stephen Ardley told critics: “I hear what you are saying, but 10p an hour is a very reasonable increase when considering we are one of the cheapest in East Anglia.”

He added that three annual budgets in recent years had not increased car parking charges.


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