LOCALS have raised their concerns as they say they have had to cancel their local parking permits in order to pay their bills.
Last year Cornwall Council launched a consultation regarding permit parking in towns across the county. Despite being met with heavy backlash to the proposed increases, rises went ahead, with some areas seeing a hike of more than 380 per cent.
Now, struggling with the cost of living and rising council tax, residents are having to ditch their permits in order to afford their bills.
When increases were first announced residents were concerned with what this might mean for their towns. One resident wrote: “Unbelievable charges! Will kill off 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.”
Six months on, these concerns are becoming a reality, as residents are having to look for other options as parking becomes unaffordable.
One Launceston resident, Sally, told the Post of her family’s difficulties balancing rising fuel and food costs, while also trying to park near their home.
She explained: “We need to park at home, we live very close to the town centre. The increase means we just cannot afford the parking permit going forward.
“What with all the other cost of living rises, we are struggling like most families to pay for basic bills and food. We do not have much choice to look for other parking as we live very close to the town, the carparks and minimal road parking – without single yellow lines which cannot be used between 9am and 6pm daily – are our only real viable options. Unless we park a fair way away from home. Which also takes away from the locals living in those streets, it’s a pointless circle.
“We have made cutbacks just to afford normal bills and food and fuel. So, we just can’t afford the permits. Full stop. Not an option.
“If we needed to sell our property, I’m pretty sure this would be a real issue for potential buyers if they were told they must pay £576 per year for a permit. I don’t know about visiting the town centre, but Launceston wasn’t really a tourist hotspot before, now we will definitely be a ghost town. A local who has lived here a long time, said it used to be busy and bustling. Well, we all know that’s not the case now. Local small businesses will not want to set up shop here. Or in any other town where the council has implemented these parking cost hikes. So, it’s all downhill from here I suppose.”
Sally and her family, like many others, require their cars for work.
“This huge hike in price is astronomical. Businesses may be able to afford it but we need to live here. With our growing children unable to afford to leave home, this also means more cars in the household, unavoidable when some of us must drive to work. Our food bills and heating must take priority and have raised considerably too. How can we possibly afford almost £600 per year to park near our own homes.”
At the time of the announcement Connor Donnithorne, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport, defended the decision, saying: “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.”
However, for many, these suggestions aren’t an option, Sally continued: “We didn’t have much choice in properties in our price range when we moved here, we were worried about parking but the option to buy a permit yearly at approximately £230 meant we had at least one option. We moved in COVID and this greatly reduced our property options and we were desperate. So, we were aware of the parking issues, but we at least could pay for the permit. Now that is not an option, locals will fight for spaces, park dangerously on corners or have to walk far too far to park.”
In response to these concerns, a Cornwall Council spokesperson commented: “Permit costs are based on the tariffs charged and, while these charges increased in May, they continue to offer a significant discount on the daily tariffs charged in the Launceston car parks.
“We recently consulted on plans to introduce a Resident’s Season Ticket, which will cut the cost of our standard seasonal parking permits by 50% for Cornwall residents. If these proposals go ahead, it will mean a six-month ticket bought under the scheme will cost £153.
“In December we introduced the JustPark wallet, which offers discounted parking across many Cornwall Council car parks, and can be charged on a ‘pay as you go’ basis, provided an initial £50 is pre-loaded onto the account. This is a viable option for those who do not always use the same location or cannot commit to the large upfront payment. In Launceston, for example, tickets purchased this way would bring down the cost of parking to less than £2.50 per day.”