Friday, March 11, 2016

News: Council sets new parking charges for Rotherham town centre

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Changes are being made to parking charges in Rotherham town centre to help fill a deficit in the Council's parking services budget and there's no indication yet of an option backed by local businesses to offer free Saturday parking in all Council car parks.

Rothbiz reported first that some parking charges in Rotherham town centre could double as the Council considers how to find more than £48m of budget savings over the next three years.

The latest proposals include amending parking charges in the town centre to generate additional income in order to help ensure a more self-financing Parking Service which currently has an "underlying budget pressure" of £137,000.

Two options were outlined in reports for discussion by councillors and commissioners. Both include increases to some on-street and off-street car parking charges. In meetings with the Council, town centre businesses indicated support for tariff increases only on the basis that this could fund free Saturday parking.

Councillors on the Overview & Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB) said that they were only supportive of the option to increase charges on the basis of free (off street) parking being provided on Saturdays. This will lower the levels of potential income and leave a £62,000 deficit within the service.

However, Stella Manzie, outgoing commissioner and managing director said that free parking could not be supported due to the parking service running at a significant annual deficit. She also pointed out that the increases in charges (the first in six years) are broadly in line with neighbouring councils and neither Sheffield nor Doncaster provides free Saturday parking (other than in the run up to Christmas).

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On April 1, on-street charges in Rotherham are to increase by 50p so that 30 mins would go up to £1, an hour would be £1.50 and two hours would be £3.

In Council-owned car parks, charges would be amended so that two hours would increase from £1.20 to £1.50 but longer stay charges would go down. Four hours currently costs £2.80 but this would decrease to £2. All day parking would be almost halved, coming down from £6.50 to £3.50.

Cllr. Denise Lelliott, Advisory Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy at Rotherham Council, said: "Decreasing the costs of medium and longer stay parking will allow people to come to do their shopping and stop for a cup of tea or lunch without the worry of restrictive parking prices. We want to encourage people to stay in the town centre to shop for longer.

"We know businesses wanted free Saturday parking across the town, but we hope these changes will go some way to supporting further investment in the town. As part of the new tariffs, we are continuing to provide 300 free all-day parking bays at Forge Island at weekends and for two hours in the car park's "red zone" on weekdays."

The Council has been looking at the issue of parking in relation to the local economy and businesses located in the town centre. Rotherham is a Portas Pilot town and one of the key recommendations in the Mary Portas High Street Review was that high streets and town centres should have the flexibility to introduce local parking initiatives to boost trade. This is particularly pertinent to Rotherham, given the proximity to Parkgate and Meadowhall, both of which have a free parking offer.

A number of parking initiatives have been introduced in recent years in an effort to support the businesses in the town centre. The Council again offered free parking on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas and free, limited stay parking is continuing on Forge Island.

Recommendations from the initial work of the Council's select commission included working on a coherent policy on parking, continued discussions with town centre traders and visitors on the issue, and the understanding that free parking initiatives should be carefully monitored to assess the impact in terms of increased trade and usage.

Images: RMBC

1 comments:

Anonymous,  March 14, 2016 at 10:26 AM  

I've used the town centre for years and paying the 50p for 30 mins gave me enough time to just maybe pop in the bank or pick something up from a few shops and give something back to the locals but now its going up to £1 for 30 mins I will not pay this and go else where like parkgate for free parking,the town centre shops are struggling already and I think this will kill it off.

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