Car parking charges “driving people out of the area”

July 23, 2012 by  

Burney Street Car Park

Greenwich Council has been accused of "literally driving people out of the area" after it was revealed that significantly fewer people are now using town centre car parks, following big increases to parking charges.

Last year the cost of parking in Greenwich town centre was almost doubled from £1.30 to £2.50 an hour. Parking permits and on-street parking charges were also dramatically increased in an attempt to make an extra £1.1 million a year.

However, last week officers told the Overview and Scrutiny Committee that the council had actually netted less than half this amount. They claimed that this was mostly due to delays in implementing new charges in Eltham and Old Dover Road.

However officers admitted that the number of tickets sold at off street car parks was also significantly down from previous years, suggesting that the increased charges are keeping people away.

The council intends to raise charges even further to £2.70 an hour next year.

Councillor Alex Wilson, recently elected as Deputy Leader of the Conservative group, told Greenwich.co.uk:

"If you increase charges to this extent then you are going to literally drive people out of the area. They will happily pay a pound extra in petrol to drive somewhere like Bluewater because they can park there for free. And one of the things about it is that you have to pay for a whole hour, so if you want to stay for an hour and 15 minutes then that's £5.00. That has to have an impact."

Wilson warned that the Council may end up actually losing revenue overall, when government plans to give local authorities 50% of business rates go through.

Officers said that they have not conducted any studies into the impact of the increases on local businesses. However, they insist that many shoppers may simply be using public transport instead.

Figures released to this website last year showed that the council had made only modest increases in revenue following the increases.

The figures released last week show that increased charges for off street parking raised the council just £71k extra last year, half of what they had expected.

The council believes that expected parking revenue could fall further once the huge new Tesco development is completed in Woolwich later this year.

The committee were also told that increases to parking permit costs may be causing more residents to pave over their front gardens. Officers warned that this could increase the risk of flooding in some areas.

Front garden dumping on the increase

More and more people are dumping large items like mattresses and sofas in their front gardens, following sharp increases in collection charges.

Last year the council raised “special collection” charges from £4 to £7 per bulky item. Labour councillor Hayley Fletcher told the Overview and Scrutiny Committee:

"I've noticed an increase not only in fly tipping but also in the number of residents who are leaving these items in their front gardens and not having them collected and some parts of my ward it is quite an eyesore. And maybe what we could go away and consider is the environmental impact, because you're talking about an increased number of people who are all going to community sites rather than one van going around and collecting these items."

Committee chairman Mick Hayes suggested that the increased charges may have been a mistake:

"Big concerns were raised at the time that whatever we raised from extra charges might be offset in other ways by additional fly tipping but we were in a position where we had to make x amount of savings and really what's happened is for members need to bare in mind when we consider increasing charges in future."

Comments

10 Responses to “Car parking charges “driving people out of the area””

  1. Barbara on July 23rd, 2012 4:16 pm

    Guilty as charged, we often head off to areas that don’t charge to park, £2.70 an hour will not only pay for the extra petrol to Lakeside or Bluewater but it will buy me lunch as well!

  2. 58frankh on July 23rd, 2012 4:50 pm

    it’s not only the Council. The charges in the car park in front of Sainsbury’s and the Co-op went up fourfold several months ago. What readers should beware of though is that recently the enforcement has become a lot more frequent and harsh. Often, I’m told, putting clamps on straight away. It hasn’t happened to me but don’t think that you can just pop into the Co-op for 10 min without needing to buy a permit.

  3. Steve on July 23rd, 2012 7:28 pm

    Yep, it’s cheaper (and usually quicker) to head off down the A2 to L.B. Bexley nowadays.

  4. Darren on July 23rd, 2012 9:47 pm

    Noticed the difference in Blackheath (at the station) too. Nothing like as busy since the charges went up. Surely someone at the council would have thought about this!!

  5. Karin Tearle on July 24th, 2012 6:58 am

    Sadly this has had a direct effect on local business. I am not saying this is the whole reason why we are suffering but it has certainly contributed. Greenwich Council seems to have no regard for hard-working local business owners and does nothing to support us. I too have noted how empty the car parks are and those customers who do venture in say they will generally stay away. One council worker once told me that people can use local transport but what if they don’t want to? Its all about choices and quite clearly Greenwich Council does not have the vision to see that.

  6. Fatty Fatty BumBum on July 24th, 2012 10:09 am

    We don’t go to Greenwich near as much since these new charges were imposed and if we do we park on those 2-hours-free areas and walk into the town centre. It makes me dislike a place when its ‘powers-that-be’ are looking to fleece incoming visitors – it makes me not trust the area or something and so I go to Dulwich for my coffee, deli and park fix as it has free parking instead. How stupid of Greenwich Council. They carry out these massive consultations into the changing of a light bulb yet they do something like this without even examining its impact.

  7. Will on July 24th, 2012 2:26 pm

    I don’t think the council seriously expected to make money with the higher charges. They did this so that they could demonstrate the impact of cuts in a way that hurts people. But their plan has failed as voters will not curse the Government every time they park, but instead vote with their feet and blame the council for this. The council should stop these silly games and focus on the running of efficient services and trying to make Greenwich a better place to live. That’s also a much better way for them to get re-elected.

  8. Richard on July 24th, 2012 2:39 pm

    I can ‘understand’ the hike in charges for residents’ permits as demand will be elastic but the other price rises do seem rather dumb. It appears that lots of people were parking for free all over greenwich last night thanks to the new Olympic routes.

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