Businesses in Cornwall relying on the night-time economy, such as bars and restaurants, will suffer when free evening parking ends in the county’s busiest car parks, a Cornwall councillor has stated.
The comments come after it was announced that new evening parking charges were being reduced from £2.50 to £2 following a public consultation.
Cornwall Council’s proposals have sought to reduce the number of different tariffs across the council’s 135 pay and display and pay-on-foot car parks.
Instead, car parks will be grouped into one of three ‘zones’ – Zone A (the busiest areas which are well served by public transport and walking and cycle routes), Zone B and Zone C.
The plans have caused some concerns as, in some areas, the new charges will mean that parking rates increase by as much as 400 per cent. The proposals also include starting to charge to park in the evening in Zone A car parks.
Areas that will have Zone A car parks include Truro, Bude, Fowey, Hayle, Polzeath, Widemouth Bay, Marazion, Looe, Padstow, Perranporth, Polzeath, Port Isaac and Seaton. Business leaders in Truro and Camborne have already spoken out about the charges having a “detrimental effect” and being a “nail in the coffin” for town centres.
As a result of the public consultation, Cllr Connor Donnithorne, portfolio holder for transport, says changes have been made to some of the proposals.
At a meeting of the full council on Tuesday (April 18), Loic Rich, Independent councillor for the Tregolls division in Truro, questioned Cllr Donnithorne over the changes: “With regards to car parking charges and evening parking for Zone A car parks, you’re proposing, albeit with a reduction, charging people in the evenings. You’re citing alternatives to parking such as park and ride. I don’t think there’s a park and ride in Cornwall that operates after about 8pm.
“Please explain to me why it’s justified when a lot of restaurants and night-time businesses could really suffer. Is it really worth that impact? Could not the daytime charges be increased slightly to accommodate, because it’s a really significant boost for town centres to have that free parking in the evening. I’m absolutely sure that businesses will now suffer. A couple of pounds does add a lot to a meal or a drink – it will put people off. Can you think again on that please?”
Cllr Donnithorne replied: “You’ll be aware from the document I sent out to all members to make them aware of the final proposal for the parking tariff review that we listened to the consultation and some of the concerns around evening charging and that’s why we’ve made a reduction from £2.50 to £2.
“When I joined the Cabinet I wanted to replace the original proposal of an hourly tariff banding which meant if you were going to Truro, for example, to the Hall for Cornwall and for something to eat you’d likely be paying for a three or four hour ticket, so introducing a fixed rate I think was a much better and balanced offering for our residents across Cornwall. The fact that we’ve made a further reduction on that I think is further welcome news for residents and the business community.
“I’ve always said we’ll keep this under review, but I don’t think a £2 parking charge is going to put a significant number of people off going into our local communities. I’ve made a further decision in Zone A car parks, rather than a £5 charge for a 24-hour ticket it will be £2.50 – cut it in half.”
Cllr Rich replied: “Two pounds on top of a £13 curry is a big increase. What about all the people who live in Truro who depend on a car for work who don’t have a choice of a bus and have nowhere to park their car, where do they put it now? They’ll have to pay hundreds of pounds a year extra now on top of everything else in the cost of living crisis.”
The original proposed charges were: Zone A – 30mins (short stay only) £1.30; 1 hour £2.20; 2 hours £4.40; 3 hours £5.50; 4 hours £6.50; All day 9am to 6pm £10; Evening 6pm to midnight £2.50 Zone B – 30mins (short stay only) 60p; 1 hour £1; 2 hours £2.40; 3 hours £3.60; 4 hours £4.80; All day £6 Zone C – 30mins (short stay) 50p; 1 hour 90p; 2 hours £1.50; 3 hours £2; 4 hours £2.50; All day £5.50.