Residents asked if they would rather ‘pay for parking with tax rise’
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A public consultation was put forward which asked residents whether they would would “rather pay for car parking via a £10 rise in council tax”. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is set to decide whether to push ahead with the new parking laws on Thursday (September 22).
The cabinet could opt to introduce all of the price hikes from the start of December, although other options remain on the table.
Free parking could be kept in certain areas of the town, including Southborough and Paddock Wood.
The first announcement of the changes sparked outrage from local residents, including Nasir Jamil, who has campaigned about the loss of free parking.
The parking charges report in July sets out the wallet-busting increases at council car parks across Tunbridge Wells.
Price hikes have rocketed in some areas, with increases of 33 percent, 50 percent and even by more than 65 percent, in the case of all-day parking in Linden Park Road.
Season ticket charges are also rising steeply, with increases most commonly at £50 a year.
A six-week consultation on the parking charges ended earlier this month and received 921 respondents, with many from Southborough and Paddock Wood.
According to the council report which will be presented at the cabinet, 80 percent of respondents were against paying 50p for the first two hours of parking in Yew tree Road.
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In addition, 79 percent were against paying 50p for the first hour of parking at Paddock Wood, Kent Live reported.
Council leaders have said the charges would help plug the £944,000 revenue budget hole in this financial year.
Many residents suggested other cost-cutting measures, including reducing the number and cost of councillors and council staff.
Mr Jamil, who has organised protests and petitions, is against the proposed changes saying that the removal of free parking will “kill businesses”.
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He added: “[Free parking] has been frequently used by the carers for the residents of next door Alms House, a caring home.
“In addition to that, this car park is also used for parents of young football players for parking free for a few hours of play.
“Ultimately, this is exactly the wrong time to be implementing fee hikes for our town centres.
“Particularly when an assessment hasn’t been made on whether it might actually reduce income and economic activity, rather than increase income for the council as the coalition has assumed.
“I hope the cabinet will listen to the residents and leave the parking charges and free hours as it is.
“If they did not listen I will organise a larger protest in the future until we get this sorted.”
Although the council asked if residents would “rather pay” £10 in their council tax towards parking, the report states the council was prevented from doing this because the annual increase cap for the council was £5.
The report said 47 percent of respondents would be supportive of paying the £10, but they were generally people who wanted to keep free parking in Yew Tree Road and Paddock Wood.
The proposal included a £5 charge for more than three hours and a £1 charge for the first hour.
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