Havering Council votes against bringing back 30 minutes of free parking
PUBLISHED: 13:04 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:08 23 January 2020
The 30-minutes free parking will not be reintroduced in Havering, councillors decided after a long debate in the Town Hall yesterday evening, January 23.
Residents came together to protest at the Town Hall, a lot who believe the rise in car parking charges is responsible for the struggling high street.
"I think it's disgusting, it's killing the businesses, the High Street in the Upminster is dead," said one protester.
But leader of the council, Councillor Damian White, attributed the fall in high street trade to a change in "shopping habits and online competition".
He said: "It's of course never popular to take tough decisions like raising car parking charges but when our residents told us they want our roads, pavements and pools - this was the only way we can fund it."
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"When the public said that they'd like to have their roads improved, they weren't told that it would ruin the shops that people wanted to drive to - that wasn't in the public consultation!" said Cllr John Tyler.
Cllr White added that the council is looking to trial a four priced car parking strategy which will be part of the budget strategy, coming out in a few weeks.
Heated discussions continued about the need not to concentrate funding in Romford, the small businesses rates relief meaning bigger businesses can't compete, as mentioned by Cllr Jeffrey Tucker, and how other local councils handle their car parking.
A lot of emphasis was put on the difficulties that older residents face trying to use apps and contactless payment for car parks.
Cllr Joshua Chapman said: "We need to look at how technology has evolved in this sector, and the focus across London boroughs is now on smart parking which is meant to improve customers' experience and efficiency in our town centres but boroughs often interpret that as a way to get rid of cash. Over the years this will be easier and better integrated."
Cllr Tele Lawal attributed the issue to lack of funding for local governments: "Many people believe that it's actually worse for the London boroughs as we see investment go up north to new Conservative seats," and stressed a need to address this with ministers.
The chamber voted 26 to 24 not to bring back free car parking.