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Parking price rises will hit shops

PRICE hikes at car parks across Aldershot and Farnborough will drive business away from the town centres, critics have warned.

Rushmoor Council is expected to green light the increases on September 10, raising fees by an average of ten pence per hour.

A flat rate 50p charge for Sunday parking may also be introduced, while the popular ‘Free after 3pm' policy at the multi-storey car park in Aldershot High Street is likely to be scrapped.

The move will hit hard the workers who use the car park's upper levels. They will see their daily fee rocket from just 70p to £2.20.

Council officials say the changes will counter the service's £287,000 deficit and bring prices into line with those charged by neighbouring authorities.

But opponents say the increases cannot be justified and will only deter shoppers from the town centres.

Speaking at Rushmoor's environment panel meeting last week, Labour leader Cllr Andy Straker accused the authority's ruling cabinet committee of using other councils' prices as an excuse for hiking up their own.

"All we're going to do is drive people away to Guildford and Reading. We're not offering what other councils are offering," he said.

Business leaders have also slammed the proposals.

John Jerome, of the Aldershot Retail Action Group, said the increases will benefit nobody and voiced his concern for low-paid shop workers who will have to pay three times as much to park their cars.

"Workers are going to be penalised. They're paying 70p to park and soon they're going to be paying £2.20," he said.

And the suggested introduction of a ‘free after 4pm' policy at Aldershot's Warburg car park would bring little benefit, the council has been told.

Cllr Sue Dibble also opposed the increases.

"Like it or not, people like to park in car parks near the shops at prices they can afford," she said.

"If you charge workers 30 to 40p an hour they won't bother with car parks — they'll clog up residential streets."

The introduction of Sunday charging also came under fire, with Cllr Shaun Murphy claiming Farnborough does not have enough shops open to justify the move.

Cllr Michael Smith also had his doubts.

"I don't have a problem with an increase in general but I'm not happy that some parts of the borough will have to pay on Sundays," he commented.

"I don't want people to see this authority as wrenching as much as it can out of the motorist."

But Cllr Roland Dibbs, cabinet member for the environment, defended the plans, arguing the council could not continue to run the car parks at a loss.

"We've got a £287,000 deficit. Should a pensioner without a car subsidise those people using cars?" he asked.

"We've got to balance the budget. If not there'll be repercussions in other areas."

If Rushmoor's cabinet adopts the plans on September 10 the charges will take effect in October.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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