Council confirms price increases at Chesterfield car parks amid “unprecedented financial pressure” – sparking fears over impact on town centre

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The cost of parking in Chesterfield town centre is set to rise in the coming weeks – in a move that one councillor fears will impact businesses and footfall.

The charges at car parks owned by Chesterfield Borough Council (CBC) will rise on Wednesday, November 1 2023 – after proposals to increase prices were approved by the council’s cabinet this week.

The option to pay 90p for a 30 minute stay at the council’s car parks has been removed. The cost of parking for one hour will be increased by 20p, from £1.70 to £1.90.

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The fee for two hours will rise from £3 to £3.30, while three hours of parking will now cost £3.60 rather than £3.20. A four hour stay will set drivers back by £5.30, having previously cost £4.80.

The charges at council owned car parks in Chesterfield will rise at the beginning of November.The charges at council owned car parks in Chesterfield will rise at the beginning of November.
The charges at council owned car parks in Chesterfield will rise at the beginning of November.

Monthly permits will rise from £66 to £72, while the cost of an annual permit will jump from £660 to £720.

All residents of the borough will continue to benefit from free parking in the 2023-24 financial year before 10am and after 3pm between Monday and Saturday, as well as all-day on Sunday and Bank Holidays, at selected car parks using the Resident Parking Scheme.

Coun Paul Holmes, leader of the Chesterfield Liberal Democrats, was the only cabinet member to vote against these increases – and said the hike was only going to impact businesses in the town centre.

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“We have said in the past that these constant price increases risk ‘killing the goose that lays the golden egg’. Well, the goose is now nearly dead. Car parks used to bring in a lot of income for the council but an expected fall in income of car parking income of £400,000 across the whole year has now had a further fall of £434,000 in just three months.

“Town centre shop and market stall occupancy continues to fall to record lows. How does constantly increasing the cost of parking encourage rather than deter more shoppers and visitors?

“In the past council reports have argued that comparisons with similar councils show CBC parking charges to be about the same overall. This is the first time I can remember the comparison chart showing CBC to be more expensive on most comparison points.

“Labour councillors replied that they ‘had to increase charges in order to raise more money because council finances are bad.’ Why can’t they understand that car park income is in fact collapsing, year after year? Higher charges just deter even more people and leads to even less income. That in turn also undermines the viability of town centre businesses who, of course, need customers to survive.”

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Coun Tricia Gilby, leader of CBC, said: “Like councils across the country we are facing unprecedented pressure upon our finances largely due to factors beyond our control, including the ongoing risks and uncertainties over future Government funding, the long-term financial impact of Covid-19, a period of exceptionally high inflation and a reduction in income coming into the council.

“This extremely challenging financial position is not of our making, but nevertheless we must consider all options open to us to ensure we can bridge our significant budget shortfalls and protect essential services that local people rely on.

“Increasing car parking charges by even a small amount is not an easy decision and is something we haven’t done since April 2022. In doing so we are very mindful of the impact on our residents, and on the town centre overall.

“However on balance, we feel the rise is as fair and reasonable as possible and is supported by our ongoing commitment to the residents’ parking permit which entitles people to free parking during certain times, and various flexible parking permits that offer parking at a reduced rate.

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“It’s important to note that income from our car parks is not only used to manage and maintain the sites themselves but is invested back into the council to support the delivery of over 50 services to Chesterfield residents, tenants, businesses and visitors – including under-pressure support services which help the most vulnerable people in our community.”