Chesterfield council freezes car parking charges for coming year

Car parking charges are being frozen by Chesterfield Borough Council in the coming year, the Derbyshire Times has learned.

Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 2:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 1:59 pm
One of Chesterfield Borough Council's car parks.

The news comes after the authority controversially increased car park fees last year amid challenging times for the high street.

Meanwhile, it has emerged the council raked in £4.6million from car parking charges in the last two financial years.

A Freedom of Information Act request by the Derbyshire Times revealed the authority made £2,293,212 from people paying to use the borough’s car parks in 2017-18 - while £2,315,496 was generated in 2016-17.

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Chesterfield Borough Council made 4.6million from car parking charges in the last two financial years.

Councillor Steve Brunt, the council’s cabinet member for town centres and visitor economy, said: "We have frozen the fees to park in council-run car parks in the coming year.

"The income raised from parking is principally used for parking-related purposes. Customers expect to be able to leave their vehicles in safe and secure car parks that are well managed, easy to access and use, appropriately surfaced, lined and lit, and under 24/7 CCTV cover. This all costs money to provide as does the financing of new replacement car parks such as that currently being built at Saltergate.

"Any income is wholly spent on transport-related matters such as renewing bus shelters and street lighting, new street signage and furniture, precautionary gritting and snow clearance in the winter months, and enhancements to town centre CCTV provision.

"When setting the fees, we look at the amount charged by similar sized towns to make sure our rates remain competitive. We also provide subsidised parking as part of our commitment to supporting local businesses such as free parking for Chesterfield residents before 10am and after 3pm Monday to Saturday and all day on Sundays and bank holidays. Shoppers are also able to park for three hours for £3, working out at £1 per hour - all of these things cost money to provide to residents.

Councillor Steve Brunt, Chesterfield Borough Council's cabinet member for town centres and visitor economy.

"If we removed car parking charges, we would not be able to cover the loss of income from Government funding. By next year we have seen a reduction of almost £10m in the amount of funding we receive as compared with the position in 2010.

"Equally, this income can’t come from council tax as the Government limit by how much we can raise this each year to £5 for a Band D household, which would translate if implemented into additional income to Chesterfield Borough Council in the coming financial year of just £144,000."

Readers' reaction

Commenting on this story on social media, Martin Green said: "Why don't they make parking free to attract customers to the town centre? All retail parks have free parking – that's why they are busy."

Adrienne Green said: "The charges are too high and discourage visitors to the town centre."

Lorna-Anne Wheeldon said: "The charges are expensive for what is available there. It certainly deters me from shopping. I'm also disabled and often cannot find any suitable spaces."

Charlotte Mason said: "I park out of town usually unless I'm in a hurry."

Dianne Needham said: "I won't take the car to Chesterfield and very seldom go now because there are so few shops and the market is abysmal."

But Simon redding said: "I'm happy to pay the car parking charges - better that than cut other services - but most of the time I walk or cycle into town."

Pete Currey said: "The cost to park in Chesterfield is fine. I don't have an issue with it. If the council was to put clear and transparent plans in place to show that car park fees or higher car park fees would be used to improve the town centre then I wouldn’t have a problem with paying it. There's a wide range of issues which need tackling within Chesterfield: cleanliness, homelessness, vacant units, quality of shops within the centre."

Michelle Irwin said: "I've always been happy paying in Chesterfield car parks. It's a damn sight cheaper than Sheffield."

Katie Davis said: "Parking is cheaper than catching a bus especially if you have children to bring as well."

Chris Dart said: "Why don't you run a story pointing out how much more expensive it is to park in Sheffield or Bakewell and how useful the parking permit is that allows all Chesterfield Borough Council residents to park for free before 10am and after 3pm each day?"