New parking charges dubbed ‘tourism tax’ by businesses who warn plans are ‘devastating’02/05/2021
Martin Lewis explains council and private company parking fines
Many traders have branded the new changes a “tourism tax” which would smash hopes of a 2021 summer resurgence. Popular areas next to the seafront will also be affected with a new £24 ticket also set to be issued for those who wish to stay for a whole day.
A new monthly parking system dubbed the Southend Pass would also launch for many residents.
This will cost motorists £8.50 each month to park for a period of up to three hours anywhere in the town.
However, businesses have warned the scheme could be “devastating”, warning holidaymakers would not come back after being hit with the heavy charges.
Paul Thompson, chairman of the Seafront Traders Association said: “It will be devastating.
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“We’re going to get an initial rush of people when the lockdown finishes.
“They’re going to arrive, get hit with the horrendous £24 charge and they’re not going to come back.
“Businesses on the seafront will obviously feel the impact of that in a negative way with less customers, less jobs and money into the local economy. It is going to be a disaster.”
Southend on Sea’s draft budget report which outlines the proposals will be considered at the end of February.
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If the plans are successful a trial is expected to launch from April 2021.
Phillip Miller, one of Adventure island said parking in the town was now more expensive than many of its star attractions.
He added: “Just after taking the worst possible economic battering on record and just when you would think Southend Council would be in the mood to help business recover they come up with this bombshell.”
However, the report said all car parks which currently do not charge drivers will remain free under the new proposals.
The Council said the proposed changes form part of a wider programme which could see £50millioon invested in improving roads and pavements over the next five years.
The new policy will enable the council to respond to the “competing demands” for parking capacity in the town.
Councilor Ron Woodley, Southend’s cabinet member for transport said the charges were partly down to “unprecedented pressures” on finances.
However, they backed the new proposals which they claim would allow residents to “save money”.
He said: “The last 12 months have applied unprecedented pressures on council budgets across the country.
“These pressures, alongside the 90 percent reduction in Government grants over the past 10 years, means as a council we have to be self-sustainable, and we must look at ways of helping to fund local services and highways improvements for example to keep the Borough moving forward.
“Whilst we do not wish to increase charges too much, local residents will be able to buy a Southend Pass and park for up to 12 hours a day across the four zones, for less than 28p a day, offering exceptional value.
“I have no doubts that if residents sign up to the pass, they will save money compared to both the current charges and proposed new charges.
“These proposals will also help us increase our proposed investment into the highways budget, which could see £50m invested in our roads, pavements and car parks over the next five years.
He added: “Even with the pressures we face and the major investment proposed, we have been able to devise a balanced and consistent approach for parking charges which as a whole provides more options for residents and visitors as we look to drive recovery for the Borough.”
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