The Liberal Democrat war on the High St has intensified as they announce swingeing increases of over 15%, to parking charges. These will cover parking permits, on-street parking and car parks. This will give them additional income of £630K per annum.
They purport to be doing this in the interests of C reduction and preventing climate change. However, they seem to be taking a stick and stick approach rather than a carrot and stick one. They intend to close streets in St Albans to prevent cars coming in. If you do struggle into the city, they will get their pound of flesh out of you in parking charges. They are on the record that they want to deter motorists. Our High Streets are already feeling the strain post Covid, with footfall down 20% in the City Centre. This money grab will make it even more difficult to shop there and people will inevitably stay at home, shopping on-line or go somewhere easier to get to and park. Is this the beginning of the end of our High St?
They are increasing all charges, whilst introducing a £1 charge for Sundays and Bank Holidays at Car parks.
At Council car parks, the 30-minute charge is removed, and the minimum charge will be £1.50, rising to £12.50 if you stay for more than 6 hours. Weekly tickets go up from £31.90 to £36.80. People will be unable to buy monthly or quarterly permits, but only annual ones. Again, prices are rising by more than 15%.
Workers are being particularly targeted, with daily permits more than doubling from £5.30 to £12 per day. Pity the poor householder who will be hit with these extra charges.
Senior citizens have not been spared by this cash grab, their tickets go up by nearly 17%.
Resident permits will also be hit by a double whammy. All permits will be issued annually and you will pay based on a complicated 7 tier system based on emission banding/engine size. Zero emission cars pay nothing, the highest bands pay £80. 2nd and 3rd permits will cost up to £240 and £400 for a larger car over 2,450cc. A standard 4-door saloon petrol car will cost £70 for the first permit, £210 for the second and £350 for the third.
It would be nice if the Lib Dems could offer some alternatives to the car. However, bus services are in decline and not everyone is fit enough or has enough time to walk long distances carrying heavy bags or to cycle. Expect to see a surge in on-road parking as people avoid these hefty charges. What will they do with the money? Plans for the £40m+ replacement for the Alban Arena go on apace – with no resident involvement.