New fears over car park charges as council aims to raise extra £100k

ROTHER wants to raise an extra £100,000 income a year from its car parks - £40,000 more than previously planned - sparking new fears of steep price hikes.

Back in September it was revealed that the district council had proposed a raft of changes to car parks across the district, including Battle, in the hope of raising an extra £60,000 a year for council coffers.

These included abolishing free overnight parking, axing the one hour parking bracket therefore forcing car park users to pay for at least 1-2 hours, and scrapping free Christmas parking.

The figure of £60,000 was recommended by council officers.

But at a recent cabinet meeting, councillors decided to approve a figure of £100,000 instead.

This has sparked fears that future increases in parking charges could be greater than in the past.

Traders say this will deter people from shopping in the town and will hit businesses hard.

Dale Cromwell, chairman of the Battle and District Chamber of Commerce, described the decision to increase the figure to £100,000 as ‘mad’.

He said: “It made sense on the paperwork how they would raise that £60,000, but I don’t know about £100,000.

“I have no idea where that extra money is going to come from and how.

“The only way they can do that is to increase the parking charges more.

“If it was going up by 60p now it would be going up by a quid to make that amount they want to make.”

Battle’s district councillor Kathryn Field said: “That’s a huge increase from what was originally planned.”

Cllr Field, who is on Rother’s Car Park Steering Group, has been fighting the proposals.

She will be speaking to traders at the next Battle and District Chamber of Commerce meeting on Monday.

Rother District Council senior communications officer Daniel Collins said: “The initial figure of £60k was one which officers considered as part of the initial work on our ‘resetting programme’ designed to achieve savings or generate increased income in the face of a greatly reduced Government grant settlement.

“At a past cabinet meeting it was decided to focus on achieving £100k and not the £60k as first mooted - this followed on from an invitation from the leader to cabinet members to suggest a savings figure for the car park working party to seek to achieve.”