Parking charges in Stroud could rise

PARKING charges in Stroud could rise after a vote this week.

Stroud District Council has proposed plans for an overall three per cent increase in car parking charges.

Council bosses say the increase would help the authority to support a range of areas, such as looking after Stratford Park, car park maintenance and management, and town centre improvements.

But Conservative councillors, backed by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie, have condemned the plans, saying the rise will hit traders and families.

The co-operative alliance-led district council’s cabinet is due to meet on Thursday, where members will vote on its budget, including whether to increase parking charges.

No rises are proposed in Church Street and Rowcroft, and charges in all six Stroud car parks for two hour stays or any stays of four hours and above will remain the same.

However, Conservative councillors say they are concerned about plans for a rise in the one hour rate, which is proposed to increase by 10p (12.5%) in four of the six car parks in Stroud.

In an open letter to SDC’s alliance leaders, Cllr Stephen Davies, leader of SDC’s Conservatives, said: “I am extremely concerned that you have taken a decision to significantly raise parking prices in Stroud District Council Car Parks by 12.5% or 10p in the first hour.

“When you tried to add parking charges to our free car parks in [2018/19], it was made abundantly clear that parking charges are a barrier for trade for our high street businesses. That was even before our retailers had suffered the economic shock of lockdown closures.

“Your plans come at a time when hard pressed families are already feeling the impact of many costs rising due to the global pandemic.

“We should be encouraging people into our towns to spend locally and away from online services, not put them off by hiking parking charges.”

Responding to the comments, SDC’s alliance leaders said they were “quite surprised by the open letter which aims to mislead and alarm the public”.

In a statement, SDC’s alliance leaders – Councillors Doina Cornell (Labour), Catherine Braun (Green) and Ken Tucker (Liberal Democrat) said: “Across all six SDC fee-charging car parks, the change proposed now is by a total of just over 3%.

“The proposal is to freeze charges in all six Stroud car parks for two hour stays or any stays of four hours and above.

“No rises are proposed in Church Street and Rowcroft. SDC rises are also in line with inflation, and Cllr Stephen Davies voted for these increases in the budget strategy last year.

“They are just the same as those being proposed for the GCC budget meeting next week, and Cllr Davies is a cabinet member for GCC so presumably will be supporting his own budget and not raising a petition against it.”

“The income generated supports a range of areas for example looking after Stratford Park, car park maintenance and management, and town centre improvements.”

“The new council plan prioritises environment and climate change and within that, mobility and transport, and economy, recovery and regeneration – we are proposing a budget this week which is committed to supporting the local economy, our market towns and high streets, and sustainable transport for all.”

“One hour charges are proposed to rise by 10p (12.5%) in four of the six car parks in Stroud, and three hour charges by 20p (11.1%).

“This means changing charges for a total of eight time limits and freezing 19 charges. That means that using the overall tariff structure, the increase is just over 3%.

“An average increase of 3% was part of the budget strategy approved by council in October 2021.”

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