Residents and visitors to Cornwall can expect to pay more while parking following Cornwall Council’s decision to increase charges from May 31.

Back in March, Cornwall Council announced plans to increase prices for council-owned car parks across the county. While many expected to see an increase, something remaining in line with inflation, the proposed hike saw one car park in Launceston increase in price by 384.89% on annual permits, as charges rise from £118.79 annually, to £576. 

However, this was not the only place set to see charges rise exponentially, with more than 15 car parks named in our area within the council’s proposal and nearly 200 named across the county.

A public consultation was launched by the council, asking residents of the area for their thoughts on these proposed changes.

Unsurprisingly, this controversial decision prompted heavy criticism, with some residents even arguing that the changes would “kill our town”. 

At the time, some took to social media to express their concern. One user from Launceston wrote: “Unbelievable charges! Will kill of our town. People will start parking anywhere they can to avoid these ridiculous charges and will be dangerous to all our children and pedestrians! Myself and my neighbours already have issues parking on our road from people that don’t live here. This will add to the problems tenfold.”

While another commented: “On a previous occasion when a similar increase was introduced, the permit only spaces were deserted and the money paid to Cornwall Council plummeted. After a big effort by local councillors the annual rate for the Launceston Group of car parks was significantly reduced. The number of permit holders began to increase, but the uptake never returned to the original level. If the price increase goes ahead people will find less suitable places to park away from their homes and cause inconvenience to other areas. The income for the Council will go down (presumably they expect an increase) and the streets will become even more congested. A no win situation for everyone.”

Residents across Cornwall also expressed their concerns that this would lead to people parking dangerously, hoping to avoid these steep charges. Others were concerned that this would push people out of towns, those who are forced to commute for work would look elsewhere. 

However, despite strong objection from residents and councillors in the area, many plans have gone ahead, with only some fees being changed from those proposed earlier this year. Therefore, as of May 31, those using council car parks can expect to pay more for their time in a space. 

When approached for a comment on the matter, a Cornwall Council spokesperson said: “Reflecting the views of the public consultation, several car parks will now move to a different zone and charges will no longer be introduced between November 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024 in car parks which have previously been free during the winter.

“The price of multi-session tickets will decrease by 50% for Zone A car parks bringing the cost down to just £2.50 per session/day. Multi-session tickets for Zone B car parks have also been cut – from £3 to £2 per session/day.”

We were also pointed to a comment released by Connor Donnithorne, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport, who said: “The changes we have made to our initial proposals reflects the large number of responses we received from residents in Cornwall.

“Initiatives such as lower bus fares and the improvements we have made to walking and cycling routes provide a cheaper and greener way to travel and I hope that those who can make changes to their journeys, will. However, I appreciate that this isn’t suitable for all – and at a time when wallets are increasingly stretched we have considered the needs of those who have no choice but to use our car parks on a regular basis and made changes to the cost of multi-session tickets.

“Income from car park charges not only helps to maintain car parks but also supports the Council’s wider transport service and without that income, we’d need to find other ways to generate that money.”

Despite these comments, explaining that charges help maintain county transport services, the decision to push on with many of these price increases has prompted concern from the public. Bude Cllr Peter LaBroy said: “The parking charges increases are sheer madness and an indication of how out of touch this administration is. Local hard-working people now face a further tax on their income and visitors to Cornwall will feel ripped off yet again. 

“To make the charges into a banded system ignores local nuances, making management of traffic around our communities even more difficult. This has been a poorly thought through process, with the administration ignoring all common sense.”

Recently elected Mayor of Launceston, Cllr Helen Bailey, echoed these concerns, saying: “I am very disappointed that despite the consultation clearly opposing the charges Cornwall Council put forward, they have chosen to ignore our residents and Councils valid comments, not only in our town but across the County.

“My concern is we will now see vehicles parking wherever they can to avoid paying these charges, creating other issues for pedestrians.

“Those working in our town are also going to feel the impact of increased charges, the promise to support the high street shops and businesses by Cornwall Council is clearly contradicted by these rises. The county council need to take a step back and re-look at this decision. Not everyone in Launceston has a driveway to park on, the salary to meet this massive increase adding to their outgoings or have access to a public transport system that can get them to and from their workplace.”

But with these new costs now in place, will you pay the price or are you looking for alternative travel? Let us know at [email protected]

To find out more about parking costs on the Cornwall Council website: