The campaign against Cotswold District Council’s high parking charges gained fresh impetus this week from new figures showing that the Council has made millions from motorists in the last few years.
In answer to a question to Cabinet Member Barry Gibbs about parking income and expenditure, shocked opposition councillors heard that the authority had made a profit of almost £10 million from charges since 2006.
The total income from the district’s car parks came to £14,634,000 in the period 2006-2013 whilst parking costs came to £5,245,000.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group (Churn Valley) said he was staggered by the new figures:
“These numbers are eye watering and people will be rightly angry that they are being hit hard hit by these charges whilst the Council’s administration refuses to cut them substantially.”
He warned that, if the charges continued, the impact on the economy of local market towns would be dire:
“Council parking charges can either encourage or choke off economic development,” he said. “If councils want people to visit their towns and villages, stay a while to shop and perhaps eat at local restaurants, then they should cut charges.
“If they want their towns to compete with out-of-town shopping locations which have ample free parking, then they should provide the ability for people to park cheaply in town centres for short business and shopping visits.”
“I want places like Cirencester, Stow and Tetbury to maintain their role as centres for the surrounding rural areas, from which travel by car is the only convenient means of transport. That means the Council should recognise this and stop milking the motorist.”
Previously, petitions against the charges – presented to CDC in 2011 – have topped 2,000 signatures.
Cllr Joe Harris (Cirencester Park), who challenged the Council’s Conservative administration to stop using parking charges as a cash cow, accused them of riding roughshod over local opinion:
“People have told us on the street that increased parking charges have influenced where they shop, with some people deserting the towns in favour of places with cheaper or free parking.
“We demand an end to these excessive profits from car parking in the Cotswolds.”