The council’s cabinet have today agreed changes to draft parking charge proposals that were announced in January.
At its meeting today, the council’s cabinet said that it had listened to feedback from local people, the business community, the arts and culture sector, and Southend Tourism Partnership during the budget consultation phase.
As part of the changes to the proposals, it has been agreed that subject to Full Council approval of the budget on 25th February:
Charging hours in zone 1a will be 8am to 6pm. This means that those parking will only need to buy a parking ticket to cover them until 6pm, and will have free parking after 6pm. Enforcement will continue after 6pm, but only for issues such as parking on double yellow lines.
Hours of charging at the 125 space Shorefield Road car park, which is next to the Cliffs Pavilion and close to the seafront and local restaurants will remain in the new zone 1a, will reduce to 8am to 6pm. This will mean theatre guests and restaurant goers will be able to park for free after 6pm. Charges currently apply from 9am to 9pm.
Hours of charging at the 80 space Cliffs Pavilion car park will reduce to 8am to 6pm. This will mean theatre guests and restaurant goers will be able to park for free after 6pm. Charges currently apply from 7am to 7pm.
‘On-street’ parking bays in Zone 1a will have 5 and 6 hour options introduced as opposed to moving from 4 hours to the full rate.
The charge for 7 to 10 hours in zone 1a will be £18, not £24 as previously proposed. This will be applicable to those who park before Midday and intend to stay longer than 6 hours (see below re hotel discount rate).
The 50% discount for the full day rate for those staying overnight in hotels and guest houses who have signed up to the scheme in Zone 1a and Zone 1b will also remain, meaning an overnight stay will be a maximum of £9 in zone 1a and £6 in zone 1b for those signed up.
Following feedback from seafront businesses, Thorpe Esplanade will move into zone 1a (Warwick Rd to Maplin Way seafront)
Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, says: “We have listened to the representations made on these proposals as part of the budget consultation, and the strength of feeling from the local tourism and business industry. I am pleased that we have been able to agree a range of amendments that will retain free parking on the seafront after 6pm, reduce the charging hours at Shorefield Road and Cliffs Pavilion car parks beyond what they are currently, and also reduce the proposed rate for a stay of seven to ten hours. As is currently the case, this rate will only apply to those parking before Midday and staying for over six hours.
“Those staying overnight in hotels and guest houses signed up to our 50% full day discount scheme will also only pay £9 to park overnight in a zone 1a space and £6 to park overnight in a zone 1b space.
“Whilst much of the focus has understandably been on the proposed rises and changes to charging times in the central seafront area zone, it is also important to note that in many instances prices are proposed to decrease, including some in the High Street and other areas of the seafront and across the Borough. This includes the return of the three and five hour parking bands and introducing consistency across on-street and off-street parking charges.”
Cllr Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, says: “We have listened to local feedback and I am pleased that we have been able to set out some amendments to the proposals today, and worked with my cabinet colleagues for the benefit of local people, and the tourism, arts and cultural sectors.
“All our budget proposals need to be taken in the context of the severe financial pressures we face and the fact that we have to set a balanced budget that protects frontline services. The last 12 months have applied unprecedented pressures on council budgets across the country. These pressures, alongside the 90% reduction in Government grants over the past 10 years, means as a council we have to be self-sustainable, and we must look at ways of helping to fund local services and highways improvements for example to keep the Borough moving forward, whilst maintaining our council tax levels as one of the lowest in Essex.
“But we also understand that local people and businesses face these pressures too, and that is why we have made these amendments and driven forward the introduction of the Southend Pass, which at £8.50 a month or less than 30p a day, will offer three hours parking every day in each of the Borough’s four zones. This will be of great benefit to local shoppers and visitors, but also those working in the High Street for example, who will save greatly from using this regularly.
“The proposed budget also shows a game changing level of £50m proposed investment in the Borough’s roads and pavements over the next five years.”