Conservatives appalled by council plans to bring in parking charges in parks

Posted On 24 Nov 2020 at 3:38 pm

The Conservatives have said that they will oppose council plans to charge drivers for parking in eight parks, including those in Saltdean and Woodingdean.

The party criticised the timing as insensitive, during the coronavirus pandemic when people needed parks and open spaces for exercise.

The proposal is due to be debated by members of Brighton and Hove City Council at a “virtual” meeting this afternoon (Tuesday 24 November). Read about it here.

Officials said that charges could bring in up to £50,000 a year to support the council’s parks budget.

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But the Tories said: “The proposal provides no details on where around the parks the parking charges will apply, how much will be charged, on what days and during which hours.

“Regardless, the Conservative group are appalled at the insensitive timing of this proposal and will be voting against the plans.”

Councillor Lee Wares, who speaks for the Conservatives on the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “The nation is presently grappling with the impact of the pandemic.

“People more than ever are needing parks and open spaces for their exercise, health and mental wellbeing – and the government and the council are encouraging people, while acting safely and responsibly, to use these spaces.

“At the very same time, the Green administration wants to capitalise on this by introducing car parking charges.

“Invariably, such a proposal will impact low-income families and deny many others from accessing these public spaces.

“The report says that such a plan will generate £50,000 of income a year – a mere £137 per day.

“The council thought nothing of spending over £300 a day on marshals to stop Madeira Drive being used or £1,200 a day on a temporary director for housing.

“Last year the council raked in £27.5 million in parking charges and fines. Perhaps the council should look closely at the efficiency of collecting that money rather than penalising residents yet again.”

Councillor Steve Bell

Conservative leader Steve Bell, who serves as one of the two councillors for Woodingdean, said: “Happy Valley is the green lung of Woodingdean used by thousands of people of all ages.

“With covid as it is, the park’s popularity and importance has never been greater.

“The council wanting to charge people to now use that space is abhorrent.”

His colleague Councillor Mary Mears, who represents Rottingdean Coastal ward, which includes Rottingdean, Ovingdean and Saltdean, said: “This is an unbelievable proposal and just goes to show how out of touch the Green administration is with citizens.

“They haven’t consulted with ward members and we have no idea of any of the detail.

“It seems we are facing another example of the Green administration trying to slip through changes during the pandemic.”

Preston Park and East Brighton Park already have charges and drivers will have to pay at Stanmer Park from next year.

The eight parks earmarked for new charges are

  • Easthill Park
  • Happy Valley
  • Hollingdean Park
  • Saltdean
  • Saunders Park
  • Vale Park
  • Victoria Recreation Ground
  • Wild Park
  1. Max Reply

    Cars take up space for parking, space that would otherwise be available to people who are visiting the park. If drivers want space that is exclusive to them and not usable by anybody else, it’s only reasonable that they should pay for such a privilege.

    • Nick Reply

      Drivers do pay – with council tax, fuel charges etc etc. But if you are saying that parkers should pay, then will we soon see the introduction of charges to pay to park our bikes? As the space for this is exclusive to them with bikes locked to the stands…. Of course, this applies where cycle parking is available and many of these parks don’t have this at the moment!

  2. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    I am puzzled by cllr Bell’s notion that one needs to drive to walk. One can walk wherever one lives, and such places as Woodingdean are in reach of verdant areas. And, everywhere, as I find, there is good talk to be had in passing. Which is good for well-being. Especially when dogs chime in with their opinions, as they are wont to do.

    • Nick Reply

      If you want to vary where you walk then yes, you need to travel. Dogs don’t like being walked in the same place every day – and neither do people

      The greens seem to think we should live in state of permanent lockdown. Only able to walk to parks near where we live. Which is difficult when parks aren’t suitable or nearby. The buses aren’t an option now – but also will never be suitable for all the dog walkers. There would be chaos!

      And if the greens aim is to decarbonise as stated well OK. Let’s make electric car parking free

      And if the aim is to raise revenue then it won’t work. It will cost more than they collect. These parks are in areas where there are numerous other entrances with free parking nearby. This will upset local residents (and may need expensive council fixes) but people will still drive and walk. Just park in the numerous other places nearby for free. And the council will spend lots of money (and carbon as the vehicles aren’t electric) driving around checking the empty car parks….

      So likely to be loss making and environmentally damaging. We’ll see if Labour have any brains to see this…..

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