THERE has been an angry reaction to news that car parking charges could be increased in the Cirencester area.
Parking fees plus tax bills and garden waste fees all look set to rise next year as Cotswold District Council faces a £3m rise in costs due to inflation.
Finance chiefs working on next year’s budget at the Lib Dem-run authority say they face the toughest challenge in years – with a worst case scenario of a potential £2m funding deficit.
As a result, they are considering a council tax rise along with potential increases in parking charges and garden waste fees.
However, the proposed parking fee changes have not gone done well with Conservative group leader Tony Berry, who branded the plan as a ‘war on drivers’.
“There is a war being waged against drivers,” he said.
“It’s like they’re declaring a war on people who park their cars.
“It’s all completely ridiculous.
“We used to have a free after 3pm but that has been removed.
“They’ve already put the parking prices up by 40 per cent.
“We are under pressure because of inflation and people who park are just easy targets.
“Cirencester is surviving well as a town because of the shops and heritage but there is only so much people can take.”
Cirencester Chamber of Commerce president Adam Vines said the plans could ‘cripple’ the town.
“Our members have told us the current parking charges are already detrimental to footfall,” he said.
“We are very concerned that these proposed increases will mean it only gets worse.
“Parking charges impact on how long visitors remain in Cirencester, or even visit, and, consequently, how much they spend here.
“Businesses are already struggling with the high rents and rates.
“We understand the environmental impact of traffic pollution, and what the council is trying to achieve with this proposal, but there needs to be a much improved public transport network as a viable alternative, otherwise this could cripple our town.”
Standard readers also reacted with anger on social media.
One resident wrote: “It will kill shopping in Cirencester.”
Another poster said: “Parking in Cirencester is expensive already.”
However, deputy council leader and finance cabinet member Mike Evemy said: “The situation regarding inflation is absolutely causing us as a council to have a very significant funding gap that we are having to bridge.
“With the cost pressures of over £3m. Our net revenue budget is £12.5m. You can see how big that is.
“We have worked with officers and partners at Ubico and Publica to generate savings to bridge that gap. We are working on the basis that we will have more than £1m of savings to close that gap.
“We are also looking at potential revenue increases. But that will still leave us with a gap of about £1.5m which is very significant.
The council says it is keen to gather views.
“We will go out to the public and ask them their view on our proposals to save money in car parking and raise more revenue from that,” said Cllr Evemy.
Comment at cotswold.gov.uk/budget until December 9.
Engagement events will also be held at supermarkets.