Members gave consideration to a report which reviewed the results of recent consultation undertaken regarding charging timebands and free periods of car parking in Council owned car parks in Gainsborough.
In light of the consultation responses, Members’ approval was sought to introduce one hour free parking in Gainsborough and to withdraw the current ‘Free After 3pm’ Policy.
The report detailed the consultation exercise which had been undertaken and the responses received as a result, with the most supported option being the introduction of one hour’s free parking.
The costs associated with such a change in policy were also shared with the Committee.
Debate ensued and some Gainsborough Members questioned why Gainsborough was being offered one hour’s free parking, whilst Market Rasen, which had been considered at the Committee’s last meeting, had been offered two hour’s free parking, which the Committee had resolved to accept. They were of the belief that the Car Parking Strategy had sought to bring equity across the District and as such this offer was neither an equitable nor fair one.
It had been accepted that two hour’s free parking in Market Rasen would be of assistance to local business and shoppers and there was a view that the businesses in Gainsborough needed and deserved the same level of support. Trade was particularly difficult with the number of empty shops continuing to rise. Some Members advised that they had spoken with local traders and their view was that an hour was simply not enough.
On that basis a Member proposed that the first recommendation be amended to offer two hour’s free parking at any time.
In responding to the comments regarding equity Officers advised the principle of equity within the Strategy was aimed at ensuring the car parks covered their own costs. As such this would be different for each town and therefore Market Rasen had been looked at separately. To make a similar offer in Gainsborough, to that being offered in Market Rasen, would be at a significant cost to the Council and caution was offered that Members did have available to them the costs associated with this proposed amendment.
Having heard the argument around equity, another Member proposed a further amendment, in that as Gainsborough was three times the size of Market Rasen, in the event that two hours free parking was granted, the hourly charge should start at 90p to reflect such.
Other Members of the Committee were of the view that equity, in the sense referred to by previous Councillors, may have been sought originally, however, in light of later decisions made regarding the Roseway Car Park, this had resulted in a change in Policy, leading to Market Rasen charges subsequently being reviewed and changed and now the Gainsborough charges and offer were under review.
Other Members were of the view that the principle of equity did remain, in that the principle was that as referred to earlier by Officers, rather than the same offer across the board. Whilst Members had a desire to support local businesses there was concern that it was being suggested that this should be done at the expense and detriment to council tax payers.
Members were reminded that the proposal to introduce one hour’s free car parking was as a result of consultation and had been the majority view expressed.
The offer of one hour’s free parking was welcomed as a start, however those Members who were in support of two free hour’s parking were of a view that more needed to be done. There was a view that permit holders continued to clog up the car parks, impeding turnover, and there needed to be a clearer strategy on how this would be managed.
In response, Officers advised that the issues regarding permits had been identified and previous reports submitted to the Committee during the 2017/18 civic year had outlined how permits would be managed. As a result a number of amendments to the terms and conditions had been made, seeing permit holders not being authorised to park in a number of the central car parks primarily used by shoppers. The sale of permits had been suspended since the demolition of the Beaumont Street multi-storey. Staff permit holders had been encouraged to park in the land being rented from Tesco and further changes were planned as more car parking sites came on line, again as detailed in previous reports. 130 more spaces would be available early next week and 26 additional spaces had been made available at Bridge Street. Assurance was offered that steps were being taken to ensure that permits would be moved away from the town centre and the position continued to improve.
Following much debate, the amendment proposed at the start of deliberations, namely: -
“approve the view of the consultees and a period of two hour’s free parking at any time be introduced in Gainsborough with effect from 1st April 2018 and support this amendment to the parking tariffs”
was seconded, however, on being put to the vote the motion was not carried.
Having being proposed and seconded it was:-
(a) the majority view of the consultees, that a period of 1 hour free parking at any time be introduced in Gainsborough with effect from 1st April 2018 be approved and this amendment to the parking tariffs be supported; and
(b) the withdrawal of Free After 3pm parking, with effect from 1st April 2018 be approved.