Concerns from Long Sutton Parish Council about charges at car park aired at public meeting
Long Sutton Parish Council wants assurances that the town’s West Street car park will stay free of charges.
Concerns that a notice put up at the car park last month was paving the way for charges to be introduced led to a public meeting in the town on Thursday.
About 40 residents came to the meeting organised by the parish council whose members are against having pay machines installed at West Street car park which is managed by South Holland District Council.
Coun Dale Frith, parish council chairman, said: “The meeting was called because the council had been approached by several members of the public about the notice concerning car parks in South Holland.
“The main thrust of the notice was to do with electric charging points for electrically-powered cars being put in car parks across the areas.
“But the notice went on to mention that charging, either by cash or card, was being considered in the future for car parks in Long Sutton and Sutton Bridge.
“Because of this uncertainty over part of the notice, further clarification was being sought by the parish council.
“All those who came to the meeting on Thursday voiced the same opinion that the public notice was unclear.”
Independent businesses in Long Sutton are still coming to terms with the knock-on effects of soaring business rates in 2017-18, despite a district council-run relief scheme worth nearly £300,00 softening some of the blow.
Coun Frith said: “It was a very good meeting and the residents were all supportive of the view whilst we’re not opposed to electric charging points, we’re certainly opposed to parking charges at West Street car park for ordinary cars.
“It would kill off trade in the town centre, including Long Sutton’s Friday market, and when you get down to the nitty gritty of the notice, even our district councillors admitted there was confusion about it.
“So all we can do send out objections in to South Holland District Council and wait to see what happens.”
Coun Malcolm Chandler, the district council’s deputy leader, said: “We wrote to the parish council last month, advising it that we have no intention of introducing any new parking charges, other than those already in place.
“In order to change three car parks in Spalding that had coin-only meters, we had to change the traffic order stipulating that they were cash-only.
“At the same, we took the opportunity to change the order to include electric charging points for electrically-powered vehicles.
“As a result, we needed some protection for the vehicle spaces in order to prevent other vehicles parking in those spaces.
“There was some concern from Long Sutton Parish Council because we had mentioned all council-owned parks on the notice.
“But it’s not the case that we’ll be introducing parking charges at all council-owned car parks.”
The deputy council leader was backed by Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, the district council's portfolio holder for place.
He said: “We have been made aware of concerns regarding the council’s statutory consultation on changes to the off-street parking enforcement order, with it being perceived as the introduction of off-street car parking charges in Long Sutton.
“The consultation is a step in the process required to amend the current order covering all car parks owned by the council.
"It will allow for alternative methods of payment to be accepted as the order currently details that only cash payments can be used, limiting the options for our car park users.
"This consultation seeks to allow the council to upgrade those current car parking machines installed in Spalding car parks to accept both cash and card payments.
"It is not our intention to add any new machines to any other car parks listed in the consultation which, as a consequence, is not seeking to introduce charges in car parks that are currently non-fee paying, including Long Sutton.
"The consultation seeks to allow the new machines to be installed in specific car parks and these new machines are only being introduced in Spalding.
"Therefore, it will not impact on any other car park owned by South Holland District Council."