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Town car parking fees to rise
TRADERS are up in arms at proposals that would see Ledbury lose its last free town centre car park.
In another blow, it has been revealed that car parking prices are set to rise for the second time in the space of a year.
Herefordshire Council is proposing the changes as it looks to balance its books in the face of a “fragile economy”
and ongoing budget cuts. However they have met with an angry response in Ledbury, with accusations that motorists are being used as a “cash cow”
for the council.
The changes, which if approved will take effect in November, will see charges introduced in Bridge Street car park.
While charges at Bye Street and Lawnside Road will remain at 50p for one hour, longer stays will be going up by as much as 33 per cent.
A two-hour stay will cost £1 as opposed to 80p, three hours will cost £1.50 compared to £1.20, four hours will cost £2 rather than £1.50 and stays longer than four hours will cost £2.50, as opposed to £2.
This would bring charges into line with the car park at St Katherine’s, where prices will remain unchanged.
A silver lining is the prospect of free parking on Sundays, but Steve Onions, of Club Sport, in Bye Street, said losing the free car park would be “a disaster”.
“I think there should be no price increases. Such rises are detrimental to businesses in small towns,” he said.
Jody Mitchell, owner of the Bye Street Barber Shop, said: “We need a free car park. My customers often complain about no parking spaces as it is.”
Ledbury town councillors backed the proposals at their most recent meeting in the Market House. But Coun Chris Ridler called the option “the best of a bad job”.
“Herefordshire Council cannot raise council tax and so they are thrashing around for money to keep services going,” he said.
Coun Peter Watts, who represents Ledbury on the county council, said: “Motorists are being used as a cash cow, and all we are doing is driving people out of town to the big shopping centres.”
Shane Hancock, community protection manager at Herefordshire Council, said all fees and service charges were reviewed annually.
“The proposed charges remain comparable to those in other similar authorities and will still ensure that shoppers and visitors to Ledbury are able to park at reasonable prices,” he added.
He said agreement on any price increase is expected today (Friday) with new charges taking effect from early in November.