Local high streets, families, and small businesses are set to be hit by a huge hike in parking charges from Elmbridge Borough Council and an end to free Sunday parking.
This comes at a time when our high streets are still struggling with the ongoing pandemic and Omicron is only making things worse. Local businesses need help and the Council should be supporting, not undermining, local jobs and people’s livelihoods. The winners will be online retailers like Amazon, while the losers will be independent small businesses and high streets across our area. It’s time to care about local businesses and residents, not just use them as a money maker.
After concerns were repeatedly ignored by the Council, the local Conservative group of councillors have now launched a petition to stop this bad decision. With your support, together we can make them see sense. The petition needs 3,900 signatures to force a public debate in the Council chamber where you can have your voice heard (you can sign below - we need your address to confirm you're a local)
What is being proposed from February?
These car parks will have a new charge imposed on them at the weekend:
- Mayfield Road Car Park
- The Heath North Car Park
- The Heath South Car Park
- Station Avenue Car Park
- Walton Park Car Park
In addition to the new Sunday charge, there will be an 8% increase in the existing weekday and Saturday charges in these car parks:
- Ashley Park Car Park
- Baker Street Car Park
- Berguette Car Park
- Cedar Road car park
- Churchfield Road Car Park
- Civic Centre Car Park
- Drewitts Court car park
- Heather Place Car Park
- Highwaymans Cottage Car Park
- Hollyhedge Road car park
- Manor Road Car Park
- Monument Hill car park
Speaking on behalf of the Conservative Group who opposed the Liberal Democrat Alliance run Council’s plans, Councillor John Cope, said:
local Conservatives will always stand up for working people and small businesses in Elmbridge. The Council’s own data shows that the number of people visiting the local high streets is still down by 13%, even with lockdowns easing for much of 2021.
If there was ever a bad time to launch what is for all intents and purposes a Car Park Tax and increasing existing charges that serve our high streets, it would be now. I did not get elected to damage local businesses in order to prop up the council’s finances.
I beg the Leader of the Council and his Cabinet to reconsider their damaging proposals and listen.
The amendment to stop the Council’s plans was seconded by Cllr Alistair Mann, Conservative councillor for Cobham and chair of the Cobham Chamber of Commerce. The Liberal Democrats and political Resident Association parties sadly voted down the effort to cancel the Car Park Tax.
John also read out a powerful letter in the council chamber from a Walton small business owner who was working a 90-hour week just to survive, and quoted the Walton Business Improvement District (representing 200 local businesses) who has contacted him and other Walton Councillors to say:
at a time when the town’s businesses need your support to encourage people out and to use their high street once again, we are deeply concerned that imposing increases to the hourly rate and new charges on a Sunday will deter customers from coming into the town’s shops and restaurants and that their dwell time will be reduced. The town’s businesses need your support. Not actions that will hinder their recovery. The community need encouragement to come out and spend time in their town and support their local businesses, not reasons that will deter them.
As a formal representative of over 200 businesses of Walton-on-Thames, I strongly urge you to reconsider the proposed increases in February 2022 until such a time that the town’s recovery is in a more stable position.
Other Conservative councillors made the point that increasing charges does not automatically mean correspondingly higher revenues as many will seek to avoid the charges by parking in side streets, further inconveniencing our residents.