Cornish nervous over council parking plans

Cornish business people and residents are getting very nervous as Cornwall Council plans a new parking regime for spring 2015.  

“These will be ‘revised’, but I’m not hearing ‘lowered’,” a TPA supporter from Devoran tells me. “Many traders are tired of odious parking charges in Truro and other Cornish towns, and residents are fed up of getting roasted by opportunistic enforcement officers. The high charges are also deterring enjoyment of Cornwall’s beautiful coastline in car parks that are owned by Cornwall Council.”

They have good reason to be nervous. Just before Christmas, Cornwall Council’s cabinet member for transport revealed the council’s plans to increase parking charge revenue by £2.9m.  “I’m not going to kid anybody,” he says, “car parking will probably be more expensive next year than it is this year and that’s a fact. The income from car parks is used to support road maintenance, the budget of which is under considerable pressure, so looking at income is a key issue.”

Already some local business people are uniting against the introduction of on-street parking charges in smaller communities.  “Camborne is very well known for its drop-in shopping,” says its local Business Improvement District Chairman, “when people park their car for a few minutes in the free on-street parking bays to pop into shops to make their purchase, go to the bank, go to the post office etc. The idea mentioned in the budget cut proposals, of putting parking meters in such parking areas, would kill this sort of trade and significantly reduce footfall and business in our town.” Camborne’s Town Clerk agrees: “We feel Cornwall Council has a poor business plan and instead of increasing parking charges should do more to promote value offers such as a season ticket, which costs £138 for six months.”

Let’s hope Cornwall Council really is listening to its taxpayers as it concludes its consultation period, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. This is the same council that made £340,000 in one year from no-change parking metres or ‘over-vend’, as they call it.

“In Cornwall, there are over 250 pay and display machines in locations from Bude to Porthcurnow and if these machines gave change there would have to be a mechanism to ensure they were continually stocked with sufficient change and to address the situation if they were not,” said a council spokesperson. “The amount of overspend only represents about 2% of our total income from car parking charges.”

So, no plans to revise that little money-spinner...

Tim Newark, South West TaxPayers’ Alliance

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