Car park charges are set to increase in January along with the hours that the car parks charging operates. An an increase each day of two hours and a possible extension into Sunday charging.
The Conservative cabinet in Elmbridge has recommended car park charging increases averaging 6% a year over the next over the next three years. In some cases the increase is 24%.
The report contains a proposal to extend the charging time one hour earlier and one hour later. Therefore the full charging day for town centre car parks will be 8:00 to 19:00. Charging later into the evening can work in the very few car parks that are nearly full late into the evening, but only if the nearby streets are protected by evening parking controls.
Yearly Season Tickets
Under these proposals, in year two the cost of whole year parking increases by 24% in main car parks, 20% in station car parks and 23% in local car parks. This is because the annual permit will be withdrawn and the monthly permits are more expensive.
Variation in charging rates
The municipal car parks across Elmbridge are divided into three categories: “Town”; “Village”; and, “Station”. Each category has its own set of parking charges. Unfortunately the usage of each car park does not reflect its designation. For example, York Road is designated as a “Village” car park but acts like a “Town” car park. The five “Station” car parks all charge the same rate but have quite different usage pattern. Walton Park (Hersham Station) car park has low occupancy and Heath north (Weybridge Station) has extremely high occupancy (full early in the day). The Conservative proposals do not offer a sensible approach to the needs of each town.
We would have preferred the introduction of variable pricing during the day. Many car parks are near full at certain times and half empty at others. Our recommendation is that when car parks are less full the charges should be lower. A simple system of different rates would nudge people into considering using the car park at off peak times.
Good to see that the Conservative are continuing with the monthly permits that we introduced. As most people are paid monthly it is good to charge people monthly. There is also the option of coming out and re-entering the scheme at will.
Matching on-street with off-street charges
We believe that any change to car park charges or charge times should take into consideration how this would affect local residents. In unregulated streets surrounding a car park, for example around York Road car park, residents could be greatly affected if the charges are increased or new charges are introduced. However, some car parks, for example Berguette in Esher, are totally surrounded by streets with regulated parking. In this case residents would be largely unaffected by the any changes in car park charges.
No-one relishes paying parking charges especially if the surplus varies between towns in Elmbridge. Of the nine towns in Elmbridge, Weybridge provides the greatest parking revenue surplus. This all goes into the general fund. The Liberal Democrats support the idea that at least some surplus revenue generated in a town is used for transport improvements in the town concerned.
Pay on leaving
It was a pity that the Conservatives ended the introduction of pay on leaving in Churchfields car park and plan to introduce it into Cobham first instead. The reason given is that there might be a new development on the car park site, in conjunction with the Library site. However fast any development is progressed it would probably mean that Churchfields car park would be untouched for three to four years. This would be plenty of time for Weybridge to benefit from the flexibility of only paying for the time used. In fact, many people would have paid automatically on-line. It would have been very convenient. Dispensation could have been made for those travelling to the church car park.
When we were in administration we looked at car parking on Sundays and found that no car park would benefit from having charging introduced on a Sunday. It is simply a money raising exercise. However, should a car park reach a higher occupancy rate on Sunday than other car parks do in the week, then we should consider it. But this has not happened significantly in any car park.
More Charging Details
Overall the revenue will increase by 6% a year – over twice the rate of inflation.
- In year two the cost of a permit per year increases by 24% in main car parks, 20% in station car parks and 23% in local car parks.
- Charging in station car parks whether full or not will increase by 3% a year.
- Charging in local car parks 4% a year (for 30mins), 18% a year (for four hours) and 9% a year (for all day).
- Charges in main car parks increasing 6% a year (for 30mins), 6% a year (for four hours). All day car parking in long stay 14% a year. Season ticket a year will increase by 10% a year.
This is not the coordinated approach from the two levels of local government that we were promised. As Surrey county refuses to extend parking controls into the evening for Minorca and Limes Roads, Elmbridge borough proposes to push charges into the evening thus making matters worse.