Car parking to increase by 9% across Dales

NMAM 18-6-13 MC 1'Car Park in Bakewell
NMAM 18-6-13 MC 1'Car Park in Bakewell

There are fears for tourism and trade in the Dales after council chiefs approved a nine per cent increase in the cost of parking.

Business groups have hit out against the planned nine per cent rise in car parking charges agreed by Derbyshire Dales District Council last week.

However the authority says it needs the revenue from car parks to maintain front line services.

From January 1, the cost of parking for one hour will go up from £1.20 to £1.30, for two hours it will increase from £1.90 to £2.20, for three hours it will go from £3 to £3.30 and for four hours it will go from £4 to £4.40.

The charge for parking four hours or more will be £5 while the cost of coach parking will go down from £5.30 to £5.

The council also agreed to make a number of car parks short stay only, including the Former Lido site and Olde English Road, in Matlock, the Market Place and Granby Road, in Bakewell, and the Market Place in Wirksworth.

Richard Young, chairman of Bakewell Traders’ Group, said: “It is suicide and they won’t receive the income they think they are going to get.”

There are fears for tourism and trade in the Dales after council chiefs approved a nine per cent increase in the cost of parking.

Derbyshire Dales District Council approved plans to increase parking charges by an average of nine per cent across the area in a meeting last week.

Traders have hit out at the plans – claiming it will damage the local economy.

Rob Short, chairman of Matlock Town Team, said: “They are going to put the price up and hope as many people park in the car parks.

“They just appear to have a default button instead or actually looking at what would help Matlock, Ashbourne and Bakewell and get more people into town.”

He said the number one priority of Matlock Town Team was benefitting Matlock and the council’s reviewed car parking scheme went against the grain.

“They have not really thought about the future in terms of how to grow business,” he said.

Rob added he thought the increased charges would drive more business towards Sainsburys, which has free parking.

District councillor Irene Ratcliffe, ward member for Wirksworth, has campaigned in the past against parking charge increases.

She said: “I understand the council have had a cut by central Government by 30 per cent in their budget and that is at a time when they are continually cutting.”

She added however that the council’s approach to this – by increasing parking charges – was not going to benefit growth, jobs or tourism in the area. Cllr Ratcliffe explained that the authority was allowing for 17 per cent of its budget to come from car parking charges.

Richard Young, chairman of the Bakewell Traders’ Group, said: “The council cannot keep on one hand wanting to support local town centres with silly little schemes they come up with and on the other hand keeping people away.”

He said he thought the authority should look into other ways of making money.

The council’s response –

Derbyshire Dales District Council corporate director Paul Wilson said: “The review of parking charges across the Dales started 12 months ago and has included a comprehensive consultation with local residents, visitors, stakeholder groups and of course the trading community

“We have made no secret of the fact that a key aim of the review – the first in over ten years – was to retain the £2.5million income that helps the district council provide frontline services for local people and 6.9 million visitors to the Dales every year.

“But we have acted on feedback and dropped several early provisional ideas in response to public opinion. What will happen on January 1 is an inflation–only tariff increase, but our popular free residents’ parking pass, issued to all 33,000 households across the district, will continue to enable free parking before 11am and after 4pm every day. Right now, for the sixth year, we’re also making parking free after 2pm throughout December to boost Christmas trade.

“More good news is that we’re introducing a flat rate £1 evening/overnight charge from 6pm to 8am and a machine development programme enabling car park users to pay by card, pre-pay smartcard or phone as well as cash. We’ve responded to representations from traders by ruling out the idea of a 30 minute parking tariff and also rejected imposing charges at free car parks in Ashbourne, Cromford, Matlock and Wirksworth.

“An earlier proposal to re-introduce a charge for farmers parking for livestock markets at our Agricultural Business Centre in Bakewell was also dropped after representations from the farming community and we have agreed with traders to improve car parks signage and introduce a new roaming day ticket, which can be used in any of the District Council’s car parks. So we have listened and acted where possible, but car parking income is more important than ever as we battle to preserve the services we provide for local people against a backdrop of more central government grant cuts and the challenge of saving an additional £2.9-million over the next six years.”