By Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas
IT will be another month before ‘first hour free’ parking in Gosport town centre short stay car parks and other changes to parking charges are introduced.
As previewed and reported in The Globe, the policy to change charges and hours was agreed at an Extraordinary meeting of Full Council on June 9 and will mean a free first hour for parking in the town’s short stay car parks, an average 10.6 per cent increase in long stay car parks where charges already apply, and the extension of the hours in which charges apply in the borough’s leisure car parks.
However, whilst the policy is in place, the procedure to implement it is complex and takes time.
Explaining the delay in introducing the changes, The Head of Streetscene at Gosport Borough Council Stevyn Ricketts told The Globe it was, “because we have to amend and update the actual traffic order.
“The amendment of the traffic order is a legal process and has to go through our legal team and it also has to be formally advertised.”
But he expects all the legal requirements will be completed and the changes brought in, “by early August.”
The downside of the delay is drivers still have to pay for the first hour of parking in the short stay car parks – Coates Road, Church Path, Minnitt Road, North Cross Street, North Loading Bay, and South Street for another month.
The upside is that the increase in the long stay car park charges and the extension of the hours when charges apply in the leisure car parks – at Alver Valley, Lee-on-the-Solent, and Stokes Bay – are not yet in force.
Covid costs council in lost car park income
During the debates about the parking charge changes, the Council Leader Councillor Peter Chegwyn said that while he wanted to remove all the charges from the town centre car parks, he could not do so because, “we are going to be financially prudent.”
Certainly, car parking revenue is an important part of the borough council’s budget.
In its the draft budget for 2020/21 the expected income from car parking during 2019/20 – which would have been marginally affected by the first Covid-19 lockdown – was a little under one million pounds or nearly 10 per cent of its General Fund Budget.
In addition, the borough council’s Statement of Accounts 2021/22 noted the financial impact of Covid-19 included a loss of income from car parks totalling £418,000.
Photograph (top): Charges sign and parking meter at the Minnitt Road short stay car park just to the north of Gosport High Street.