The Executive Member for Economic Development submitted a report presenting further information which would support the Executive in their decision making in respect of Car Park Charging Policy for 2013.
Members were reminded that the car park charging policy detailed in the report had been drawn up following the proposals approved by the Executive on 4 December 2012. The joint meeting of Scrutiny Committees was invited to scrutinise the suggested policy and to make recommendations to the Executive.
Councillor J Mayes commented that the £1 evening charge should be introduced in isolation and there should be no reduction in day time charges.
Councillor J Wing expressed concerns that the proposals would not improve business in East Herts and there would be significant damage to evening trade in Ware. Councillor G Jones expressed concerns that the proposed changes would have a negative impact on the night time economy in East Herts and particularly in Bishop’s Stortford.
Councillor P Ballam, as a local ward Member not on a Scrutiny Committee, stated that she supported the comments of Councillor Wing and was against an evening car park charge in Ware.
Councillor M Wood welcomed the ideas detailed in the report, particularly for the larger towns. He stated that the proposals might go some way to preventing indiscriminate on street parking and the proposals should be implemented and enforced on a trial basis for 1 year.
Councillor J Wyllie commented on whether every town should be treated the same. He suggested that the evening charge should be 50p rather than £1.
Councillor C Rowley commented on whether there was any value in obtaining evidence of the effect of such proposals on shops and business by looking at the approach of Local Authorities with a similar demographic to East Herts.
The Head of Information, Customer and Parking Services stated that Members were faced with a unique challenge in deciding on a future car park charging policy. He referred to the difficulties and risks in making geographic or demographic comparisons as every town and district was unique. Members were referred to Bishop’s Stortford as an example, where the Chairman pointed out that the station car park charging for evening parking was very busy with people accepting the fee for the convenience of parking near the train station and cinema for their night out.
The Chief Executive and Director of Customer and Community Services stated that empirical evidence from other Local Authorities could be examined. He stated however, that the economic landscape was complex and separating out the cause and effect of any changes would be a significant challenge for Members and Officers.
Councillor T Page stated that a far more radical approach was required, such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology or self enforcement. He commented that the effectiveness of residents parking schemes might be impaired by motorists seeking to avoid an evening charge.
The Head of Information, Customer and Parking Services advised that there were pros and cons to all of the current methods of parking enforcement and increasing car parking charges carried its own advantages and disadvantages. The introduction of new technology in respect of car parking control would be considered by the Council in the near future as the current ticket machines were coming to the end of their operating life.
The Executive Member for Economic Development thanked the joint meeting for its comments. He stated that the debate had provided a useful opportunity for scrutinising the future car park charging policy of the Authority.
The joint meeting supported the introduction of a £1 evening charge in Hertford, Ware and Bishop’s Stortford for a 1 year trial period on Mondays to Saturdays from 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm, along with associated recommended options for a reduction in day time charges as detailed in paragraph 2.4.6 of the report now submitted.
Councillors G Jones and J Wing requested that their dissent with this recommendation be recorded.
RESOLVED – that the Executive be advised that the joint meeting considers that a £1 evening charge should be introduced in Hertford, Ware and Bishop’s Stortford for a 1 year trial period on Mondays to Saturdays from 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm, along with associated recommended options for a reduction in day time charges as detailed in paragraph 2.4.6 of the report now submitted.